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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tsunami’s toll touches kids, school


Principal Jeff Bengtson, left, and secretary Teresa Cruse empty collection jugs for the tsunami relief drive Friday at Canfield Middle School in Coeur d'Alene. The money was counted at a local bank. Principal Jeff Bengtson, left, and secretary Teresa Cruse empty collection jugs for the tsunami relief drive Friday at Canfield Middle School in Coeur d'Alene. The money was counted at a local bank. 
 (Jesse Tinsley/Jesse Tinsley/ / The Spokesman-Review)
Taryn Brodwater Staff writer

Catherine Anderson sat at Parker Toyota this week waiting for an oil change and reading magazines. Page after page told stories about the Dec. 26 tsunami that left thousands dead.

She said she could hardly fight the tears as she sat there with her 13-year-old son, Tyler.

“I was talking to him about those articles,” she said, “and how fortunate we are. We have all our needs met. We have much more than that in luxuries.”

That’s when Tyler told his mother that he was going to take $20 of his own money to school to donate toward relief for the tsunami victims. Anderson was so inspired by her son’s generosity that she sent him to school with a check for $1,600.

The Andersons’ contributions, combined with donations from other Canfield Middle School students and their families, raised almost $4,000 for the tsunami victims.

Throughout the week, Canfield students collected change in coffee cans, gallon jars and 5-gallon jugs. Some brought pennies, nickels and dimes. Some brought dollar bills.

The jars had rolls of coins by the end of the school week. There were several $5, $10 and even $20 bills.

Geography teacher Jeff Medved wore a stocking cap and gloves on Friday and posed as a Salvation Army-like bellringer. He set up a tripod with a jug in the hallway with the sign “Cougars Care” and shook bells as students passed between classes.

“A whole lot of kids put money in at the last minute,” Medved said. “It was great.”

Medved had approached Principal Jeff Bengtson about doing a fund-raiser in his class. Student representatives also brought up the idea during a meeting with the principal.

Bengtson said it was the first time he could remember when students raised money without the incentive of an award or prize. Often, fund-raisers at the school are competitive, with prizes or pizza parties going to the students or classes who raise the most money.

“You could just see in the faces of the kids the concern they had,” Medved said. “They wanted to do something.”

He said it was a big deal for students to bring in the amount they did. Giving away their pocket change meant the difference between candy and pop and going without, Medved said.

“At 13, that’s a big thing.”