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Fundraiser at West benefits Haiti
West Haitian Donation 8 es
Jeff Thompson holds a bucket for Rosie Ramos to deposit collected donations for Haiti Wednesday at West Forsyth High School as volunteer Edgar Lugo watches. - photo by Emily Saunders
Haitians Lise and Ann Philippe roamed their school’s campus Wednesday to raise money for the earthquake-ravaged nation’s recovery.

The sisters are members of the West Forsyth High International Club, which joined with the school’s Y Club for the fundraiser.

The outpouring of support from students, teachers and staff brought in about $1,200 for the American Red Cross’ efforts in Haiti, which was devastated by a magnitude-7.0 quake on Jan. 12.

Some students gave a quarter, others gave $5, but the sisters were just happy people were giving.

“It’s an amazing thing that they’re doing with fundraising to help people because there are so many families that are living in the street,” said Lise Philippe, 17.

“They have broken legs, broken arms and they can’t go to the hospitals to have surgery done. They don’t have food to eat and some people don’t have a blanket to put down on the street. So I know this will help some families for sure.”

Heidi Hepler, a teacher who helped organize the effort, said the response exceeded expectations.

“Imagine what that money can do,” she said.

For the Philippes, the generosity from their peers is personal.

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city, the girls and younger sister Sarah, who is in middle school, have lived in Forsyth since summer 2007.

It was several days after the earthquake before the girls learned that their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Haiti were safe. Some friends died.

The Philippe sisters don’t need to watch the news to see what’s going on in Haiti, which was rattled by a magnitude-6.1 aftershock Wednesday.

They hear about the conditions from their father, Louis, who returned to the country Jan. 15 to offer his skills as a surgeon.

“He told me this morning he felt the aftershock,” said Ann Philippe, 16. “He doesn’t get sleep.”

Lise Philippe, who plans to become a surgeon like her father, said he is helping keep his old community alive.

“He’s working all day long,” she said. “Patients are coming, he is doing surgeries ... and trying to provide for the community.

“I do miss him, but at the same time I’m happy because I know he’s helping people ... It’s just inspiring me and inspiring others.”

Lise Philippe and others from the International Club sat in West’s cafeteria during lunch Wednesday, collecting change from passers-by.

Travis Albritton, who was among the donors, said he was saddened by the situation in Haiti.

“The people need help,” he said. “I saw something on [TV] about how you look down and you see nothing at first. And when you look down again, you can see an arm and a leg — it’s tragic.”

Albritton and other donors will have their names displayed on red crosses along the cafeteria windows.

“Haiti is a beautiful country,” Lise Philippe said. “You find people who have great hearts and you have amazing people there.”

She said the country may not have received much attention before, but people see the situation and are “doing their best to make Haiti better.”

“I see a better future, but I know it’s going to take time.”