Students help earthquake victims

Students, parents and staff from several Catholic elementary and high schools in the Omaha area joined forces to help earthquake victims in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

It started with Brenda Zerf, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Omaha and a native of Mexico, who helped form a group of people they called Fuerza Mexico Omaha to assist victims of the September quakes. The group contacted several businesses, public and Catholic schools, and received help from Beatriz Arellanes, the archdiocese’s coordinator of Latino School Enrollment. Help also included Omaha-based Werner Enterprises donating a semitrailer and driver, and Iowa-based HyVee grocery stores and Sam’s Club making donations of their own, Zerf said.

Another helper was Gaby Gándara, an eighth-grader at St. Bernadette School in Bellevue, who told her mother, Bertha, a native of Mexico, that she hoped her family could do even more than donate money to the Red Cross for those in need.

‘"I wish that I can collect a lot, lot, lot of items that they need,"’ her mother recalled her daughter saying.

So they helped organize the assistance at St. Bernadette. Students, staff and parents at several other Catholic schools also helped, including St. Mary in Bellevue, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Thomas More, Creighton Preparatory and Marian High, all in Omaha.

Together they filled a semitrailer that left for Mexico Oct. 12, filled with bottled water, canned and dry food, diapers and other goods.

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