Students help victims of Samoa tsunami

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LAYTON -- After a tsunami hit the Samoan islands at the end of September, a Layton family from Samoa decided they'd like to gather supplies to send back to their relatives, so they organized a donation drive.

But when they put out the call for help, they weren't expecting what happened next. They weren't expecting the amount of donations that came in and they were also pleasantly surprised by who the donations came from: students at a Farmington Elementary School.

From teaching kids math to making sure they know the days of the week a first-grade teacher has a big job. At Eagle Bay Elementary School, Aubree Gardner is preparing her students for even more.

She said, "Our school theme this year is service, and so I thought this might be good to get my class involved with."

Mrs. Gardner recently learned one of her neighbors was gathering donations to help family members in his native Samoa who had lost everything in the tsunami.

Voa Kuehl said, "We wanted to get as much as we could to that village, to our family's village."

When Mrs. Gardner asked if her class could help, the principal decided the whole school should get involved. The school sent a letter home with the children so families would know what was going on, but they didn't have a lot of time to gather donations. Within two days, though, those items started pouring in.

First-grader Emma Hammond said, "I brought in some soap and some food cans."

Daxton brought "mostly bathroom stuff and clothes."

Gardner was overwhelmed by the response. She said, "We had kids coming to school with their little red wagons just full of donations. I mean, they could barely pull them."

The bags quickly added up, filled with clothes, toys, Mrs. Gardner's class sorted it all out.

Hammond said, "I was doing clothes, and there was 199 bags!

When the donations were delivered to Voa Kuehl, he couldn't even fit them all in his garage. He said, "It was just amazing. It was just amazing."

Kuehl was floored by the children's generosity, but Mrs. Gardner said her kids also benefited.

She explained, "It really kind of showed them that in a few days, they can make a big difference."

It's a lesson many could argue is just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic.

Kuehl's family also received financial donations from the community, and they were able to use the money to ship all the goods. The donations should be arriving in Samoa in the next week or two. The items will be distributed both in American Samoa and Samoa, where Kuehl's relatives live.



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