By Lori Lyn Lirio
THE American Red Cross’ 32nd Annual Fundraising Walkathon in the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands was a resounding success.
ARC NMI Chapter Executive Director John Hirsh said the April 14 event was participated by more than 2,000 people in the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
“The event met far beyond our expectations as more people came out and helped meet our financial goal,” Hirsh said.
“People understand the mission of the Red Cross to the community. They responded and supported us by participating in this wonderful event,” Hirsh said, adding that their goal was to raise at least US$60,000.
Last year, Hirsh said, the walkathon event was able to raise money about the same amount.
According to Hirsh, they have yet to announce the figures of walkers who participated in the walkathon and money they raised from the events will be finalized this week.
“We will announce which school has the most walkers and which school has most collected donation,” he added.
The Red Cross annual fundraising walkathon has full participating from private and public schools.
“We have about 30 different schools participating in the event yearly,” Hirsh said.
In the past, according to Hirsh, the majority of all money that was raised at walkathon was from schools and students. He said the schools and students made a tremendous effort to raise money for the Red Cross.
“Their effort is a reflection of leadership of the schools and their coordinators. They are teaching the children about giving back. Even if they only have US$10, they still try to give something for somebody who is less fortunate.”
Oleia Elementary School consistently gets the most money raised for the past six years. This year, OES teacher and coordinator Roselle Carreon said they started collecting donations for the Red Cross as early as March.
“We have been working for eight years because we believe in the cause. I told our students why we are doing this. I am telling them it is not about receiving all the time. We need to learn how to give because when the time comes all the blessings that they give will come back to them,” Carreon said.
She added that before doing the fund raising activity, the teachers and coordinators made sure that students understand why they were doing this.
“This motivated them. When they go out and asked people to donate, they can explain why they should donate to the Red Cross.”
In an interview, OES student Francine Ebuen said she asked people for donation because Red Cross has helped many people who were affected by Typhoon Soudelor.
“Red Cross was there for the people when the typhoon destroyed our homes and when we needed support. Now, it is our turn to give back.”
Last year, Carreon said they were able to raise US$13,000 cash donations. This year, they collected around the same amount of money but she declined to give the exact figure.
According to Hirsh, they added new features in the event. He said 500 Sails offered a boat ride for the people. Students lined up to ride on Neni canoe. It was an open house for Okeanos Marianas and people, mostly students, visited the canoe got a brief orientation about the boat’s parts and its functions.
Hirsh said Saipan Cares for Animals brought dogs at the event for showcase. They were also up for adoption. More children visited the animal area to cuddle and play with puppies.
“We still have our partners from community and health organizations to help us promote healthy lifestyle and wellness.”