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San Diego students raise money and collect supplies for Maui kids

As recovery efforts continue in Maui, the fire-ravaged community is getting help from some San Diego elementary school students and their families.

The exceptional donation drive started in the second-grade classroom of Shelly Crickett at Wegeforth Elementary in Serra Mesa.

 “I wanted my second-graders to learn compassion and empathy. (I wanted them) to feel what it would be like if you went to school the next day, and your school was burned down," Crickett said.


Just over a week ago, math lessons in Crickett's class took on a much deeper meaning as students and their families started collecting spare change to help Hawaiian children in Maui.

She has long-time ties in Hawaii as a property owner on the big island and spends a lot of her vacations there.

“I like the spirit of aloha and that’s just being kind to everyone," she said.

Already more than $700 in coins and other money have been donated, and students are calculating and accounting for every penny. The rest of the school has joined the effort, which also includes collecting new school supplies for the next several months. All donations will be sent to the children who need it most.

Crickett has trusted friends in Maui to help with that distribution. John and Joanna Stockham live six miles north of the Lahaina fire zone.


 “It really was on fire and there was no escaping it. People were covered in smoke. It was horrific," John Stockham said in a Zoom interview with KPBS from his home in Maui on Monday.

The Stockhams relocated from Southern California to Hawaii 20 years ago. For the past several weeks, they have helped students of the Catholic Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina find places to keep learning. The temporary classrooms included a covered parking lot as well as unused church spaces.

“If we can connect them, I mean really connect the kids one on one and allow them to write back and forth. (They) can learn from each other. I think we’re taking education way outside the classroom," Joanna Stockham said. Both she and her husband have served on the Maui district school board in the past.

The Stockhams will make sure every dime and school supply coming from Wegeforth Elementary gets to children who need it now. Public schools hope to open in other temporary locations by Halloween.