Education

When this Goddard student saw Irma’s path, she wanted to help

From the Caribbean to the U.S.: Hurricane Irma's destructive path

Hurricane Irma battered the Caribbean islands and southern Florida before moving up the Gulf Coast. Retrace the destructive path of one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic.
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Hurricane Irma battered the Caribbean islands and southern Florida before moving up the Gulf Coast. Retrace the destructive path of one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic.

When she saw the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma throughout the Caribbean, Laurel Huntley thought of her summer with sea turtles.

And then she thought of the people who love them.

“These people are suffering because of things they have no control over. Their homes were destroyed, and they’ve lost everything they have,” said Huntley, a 17-year-old Goddard student.

“I don’t think anybody deserves to suffer like that.”

I don’t think anybody deserves to suffer like that.

Laurel Huntley, 17, Goddard Academy student

Huntley, who spent 19 days in Dominica this past summer as part of a study-abroad program through BroadReach, is holding a lunchtime bake sale at Goddard Academy this week.

She hopes to raise $500 for ShelterBox, an international disaster relief charity that provides temporary shelter and life-saving supplies to displaced families.

Last weekend, Huntley and two friends – Kassidy Ballinger and Morgan Hoskins – baked batches upon batches of brownies, blondies, cookies, fudge, cookies and rice crispy treats. They’re selling them at school – during the brief sliver of time when sweets are allowed – and plan to send all the proceeds to ShelterBox.

So far, they’ve raised about $57.

“This is the first time I’ve really done something like this,” Huntley said. “But I’ve always had an interest in fund-raising and helping people and volunteering.”

During her time in Dominica, an island in the Lesser Antilles archipelago, Huntley was part of a team of student researchers who excavated sea turtle nests, counted eggs, looked for hatchlings and collected data on turtle populations.

She learned a lot about sea turtle conservation, she said, and also about the friendly, welcoming nature of people who live in the Caribbean.

At one point during her stay, she and some classmates “got into a little bit of trouble” for not chatting with security guards on their way to the beach.

“We accidentally offended some guards pretty badly because we walked by them without saying hello,” she said. “They really expected hi’s and hello’s and how-are-you’s, and we were from the United States, and we didn’t understand that.”

Dominica weathered Hurricane Irma fairly well, Huntley said. But several neighboring islands did not. Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and others sustained catastrophic damage, and she wanted to help.

“I really enjoy helping people and trying to make the world a better place,” Huntley said. “Even through small actions.”

If her bake sale raises $500, that would finance half of one ShelterBox, which includes a family-sized tent, solar lights, blankets, water-filtration equipment and other supplies, she said. She and her friends plan to bake more treats over the weekend and continue the sale next week.

People wanting to contribute to Huntley’s efforts can send....xxxx

“If I can help even just a little bit and give them a little bit of hope, that makes me feel really good,” she said.

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias

How to help

To support Laurel Huntley’s efforts to secure a ShelterBox for victims of Hurricane Irma, send contributions to Goddard Academy, 19701 W. 23rd Street South, Goddard KS, 67052. Or, contact principal Sean Hollas, 316-794-4142.

For more information about ShelterBox, go to www.shelterboxusa.org.

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