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Relief efforts mount
Schools, church rally for Haiti
haiti donate 3 jd
Otwell Middle Principal Steve Miller tapes dozens of boxes of clothing dropped off at the school for the Haiti relief effort. Miller said he was surprised at the large outpouring of support. - photo by Jim Dean
Clauvin Almonor knows his native Haiti is suffering.

The magnitude-7.0 earthquake that wreaked havoc on the country last week has left him worrying about his family and Haiti’s future.

He paused when his phone rang. “It’s Haiti,” he said. “Hello? Hello?”

No one answered. Almonor, a custodian at Forsyth Central High School, said he has received several phone calls where he cannot hear whoever is on the other end.

While they continue to await word, he and fellow co-worker and Haitian Alphoncine Staniclas are thrilled with this country’s response to the tragedy.

“Haiti’s broken down right now,” Almonor said. “I never knew Americans cared for Haiti like this.”

They also are thankful for the efforts of the local community, which Tuesday held a clothing drive.

The high school, Otwell Middle School and Good Shepherd Catholic Church sent out word over the weekend that donations for Haiti would be accepted that morning.

Towering stacks of clothing, shoes and bedding came in, filling the entryway of Otwell.

Principal Steve Miller estimated that about 50 people brought donations.

“I’m totally overwhelmed,” Miller said. “This all happened in a period of two hours.”

He said his mother-in-law, Pat Wood, headed up the community effort at Good Shepherd, where the announcement went out at all Masses on Sunday.

Nichole Hernandez brought bags of baby and children’s clothing to the school Tuesday. She hoped to bring more later in the day.

“It can make a difference,” Hernandez said. “I believe that.”

For Central’s custodians, every little bit could make a difference, possibly in the lives of their own loved ones.

Staniclas has yet to hear from her brother and sister in Haiti. Her son called Tuesday morning, a week after the devastating quake. He has no food and no home, she said.

Almonor heard Monday from his nephew, who let him know that his father and nine siblings are safe. His nephew’s home, however, was destroyed.

Almonor’s church, Ebenezer Haitian Church of God in Roswell, is storing the items until Pastor Gerald Jean-Jacques is able to get them to the country.

Jean-Jacques said it would be at least a month before he and church members could visit Haiti. The plan is to travel far from the capital city, since he has heard that people in the countryside have nothing.

“Many only have the clothes on their backs,” he said.