Determined to Help, Stymied Students Improvise
Humanitarian relief work halfWay around the globe doesn't always turn out quite the way you planned. Heels for Hope, a joint effort of the campus American Red Cross
Club and Airline Ambassadors International, originally intended to send 20 stu-
dents on their spring break and alumni to run in the Thailand Temple Run
marathon, a four-year-old race that this year raised funds for tsunaJ.1U relief. Five
more students would go along and help local agencies by delivering supplies to
damaged areas. Late in February, they learned their assignment would be to
drive a donated fire truck from Bangkok to the beach resort of Phuket.
Airline Ambassadors, a charitable fOlilldation, would provide plane tickets. A
grant from the University Center for International Studies covered their hotel
rooms. Club members would pay the rest of their expenses and raise at least
$1,500 apiece to donate to tsunanu relief. To meet that goal, they wrote letters,
solicited donations from businesses and worked the door at a party at Players, a
Chapel Hill nightclub. They also helped set up a coin drive at Granville Towers,
which gave them an additional donation in exchange for supplying dealers for
the apartment complex's annual casino night.
About a week before the group was to leave, the arrangements started
breaking down. First, the students learned that Airline Ambassadors could sup-
ply only nine tickets to Thailand.
"It was a rough weekend figuring out who could go," said sophomore
Charles Newsome of Coinjock, Heels for Hope's coordinator. "We did it
according to who had raised the most money and had done the most work."
The nine who made the cut arrived in Bangkok only to face more bad
news: The fire engine, conung from a U.S.
donor, wasn't shipped on time. Newsome
spent two days trying to figure out what
service work they could do instead.
In the end, Airline Ambassadors had them
deliver several hundred pairs of donated
shoes to two orphanages outside Bangkok.
"It wasn't what we originally planned to
do;' Newsome said, "but everyone had a
great time, and the kids were so grateful.
There were two larger boys, and we couldn't
find shoes to fit them, so [Carolina junior]
Brian Daoust and I gave them our shoes. The
look in their eyes when we did that - it was
really a great experience. It was incredible
how happy they were just to have someone come visit them and play with
them. Some people made balloon anin1als for the kids for hours, and we played
soccer with them for a while, hung out with them. They had a great time."
The students never saw the tsunami-damaged area, a nine-hour bus ride away.
But the three who ran the marathon did well. And despite the setbacks,
Heels for Hope raised about $15,000 for tsunan"li relief. It was a bummer,
Newsome said, that they couldn't do more service work in Thailand. Still, he
would make a trip like this again.''I'd try and have more time to plan it
though," he said. .11Il
Charles Newsome spent his spring break
delivering shoes to orphans outside Bangkok.
- lCathleen lCearns
The UNC American Red Cross Club is establishing an ol1goirlg disaster reliif
fund. Contact Charles Newsome at email@example.com Jor details.
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