Thursday, April 1, 2010

Play time with a mission

April 1, 2010
Cranston Herald
All text and photographs by Jen Cowart

Although the headlines about January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti are starting to fade, two Cranston sisters have not forgotten.

Katie Salisbury, a 14-year-old student at Western Hills Middle School, and her sister Stefanie, an 11-year-old Hope Highlands student, teamed up with Hasbro, Girl Scouts of Rhode Island, and St. Matthew School to host a PLAYATHON for Haiti on Saturday night.

Both girls are scouts, and their mother, Donna, is a scout leader.

“Stef and I had heard about PLAYATHONS and wanted to do one for Haiti, in memory of our grandmother,” said Katie.

Hasbro has been doing PLAYATHONS as a creative way for kids of all ages to raise funds for a cause they care about, through play, for quite some time. According to Hasbro, participants secure pledges for their participation in a PLAYATHON event or pay a flat fee to play.

“It’s a nice way for kids to feel like they’re helping out,” said Karen Davis, vice president of community relations at Hasbro.

Katie and her sister approached their mother with their plan. She readily agreed.

“I got in contact with Hasbro and they sent us all the information we needed,” said Donna. “We had to get clearance from the Girl Scouts of Rhode Island and from the school, since they wanted to do it in memory of their grandmother.”

The girls’ grandmother, Marjorie D. McDonald, worked at St. Matthew School for 25 years, hence the reason they chose that location to host the event.

“There are so many kids in Haiti who are just like us, only right now they are living on the streets without a home because of the earthquake,” said Katie. “Our grandmother worked at St. Matthew School helping children for 25 years and I know we’d be helping her with this PLAYATHON if she were with us today.”

According to Stefanie, the event was a team effort for a great cause.

“Our friends in school and in Girl Scouts all helped us raise money for the PLAYATHON. We wanted to do something to help kids in Haiti who may be out in the rain and have no roof over their head,” she said.

The girls’ friends not only helped to raise the money, but also helped spread the word about the play-a-thon, and also came that night to help supervise the many games available to play during the course of the night.

The Hasbro Children’s Fund will match the total amount of money raised through this and other PLAYATHON for Haiti events held before March 31, 2010 in support of SOS Children’s Villages, up to a total of $500,000. The funds donated will go towards purchasing shelters or “pop-up” houses that will give the children of Haiti dry, secure homes that will help protect them as Haiti rebuilds.

At the night’s end, a final count had not yet been taken, to see what had come in for monetary donations.

In addition to a monetary donation, the girls asked that each person bring a canned good, to be donated to a local soup kitchen. The games themselves would also be donated after being played on Saturday night.

“Hasbro said we could do whatever we wanted with the games, but we chose to donate them, since the whole thing is a fundraiser,” said Katie.

The games will be donated partly to St. Matthew School and then to a local shelter or needy children’s home.