Charitable organization WE and the NFL have been partnering this football season with a goal to get a million people to volunteer, with the Huddle for Good initiative.
To close out the nationwide campaign, it went to Renton’s St. Anthony’s School to help the local students “huddle for good” for their sister school in Haiti.
WE volunteers and staff spent part of the day, Jan. 22 with St. Anthony’s WE Act club middle schoolers and one third grade class from the school while students organized letters and school supplies for a catholic school at St. Anne’s Parish that they have partnered with since the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010.
The earthquake killed an estimated 230,000 people, displaced at least a million others and devastated or destroyed almost 4,000 schools. Among the victims was a missionary volunteer Molly Hightower, the granddaughter of St. Anthony’s parishioners John and Annette Hightower, who was in Haiti during the earthquake. This inspired St. Anthony’s search for a sister parish there.
Then it found St. Anne’s, located in a village on top of a rugged mountain in the Grand’Anse region. It serves about 7,000 Catholics and staffs a school for grades first to ninth, according to St. Anthony’s. The priest travels to Renton from the parish each year. The school supplies can’t be mailed from the states due to conflict in the region, St. Anthony’s teacher and WE Act club supervisor Christi Corbin said. Instead, the priest will bring all the supplies with him after his visit.
Corbin said the idea was pitched after conversations with WE Act offices about the need at St. Anne’s. Then for the last couple weeks, WE Act and leadership students at St. Anthony’s have been gathering school supplies like pencils, erasures and geometry sets for 60 student care packages. At the Huddle for Good event, students took shifts filling the backpacks. The students also wrote letters for the bag recipients with things like “Don’t Give Up” and “You’re Beautiful” written on them.
Before the bags were made, the 60 students received an opening talk from WE Facilitator Avery Price. He talked about how WE was founded by two 12-year-olds and asked if any of the students had ever been told they were “too young” to help others.
WE spokesperson Jacqueline Sanderlin, known as “Dr. J.,” then came out and danced with the kids, while also emphasizing the message of Huddle for Good and the idea that youth of today are the new leaders of this world.
“What you’re doing when you volunteer means you’re giving up your time, and that’s so important because it means you grew up. Some of you just grew up today. Every time you do something good, give something, you grow up,” Sanderlin said.
In the past, the school has also collected money for St. Anne’s teacher salaries, socks and watercolor sets for students.
Eighth-grader Ava frequently donates her free time outside of the school’s WE Act club. She said she also helps organize the Renton food bank and the ARISE shelter at St. Anthony’s. She said volunteering is something she enjoys, and the school supplies donation made Ava feel she was making a difference while having fun.
Another student, Vicente, said the Huddle for Good event helped him learn to work with students with different perspectives on problem-solving, and he’s proud of what the students created together.
Huddle For Good launched in May 2019 to WE Schools; schools using WE’s free service-learning programming. The initiative offered assistance to school volunteer campaigns. The nationwide Huddle for Good results will then be celebrated at Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Florida.
Visit nfl.com/huddlefor100 to learn more.