Ethiopia Challenge : L.A. Students Plan 2-Week ‘Miracle’ Goal

Times Staff Writer

A fund-raising campaign of noon dances, bake sales and some class-to-class solicitation will begin May 13 at each Los Angeles city school campus to raise at least $250,000 to aid famine victims in Ethiopia, district officials said Monday.

Schools Supt. Harry Handler said at a news conference that the two-week “L.A. Students Make a Miracle Drive” campaign was prompted after district offices were swamped with calls following a broadcast last week of ABC-TV’s “20/20" program, which showed how New York high school students raised $250,000 to send four truckloads of grain to the drought-stricken Shoa region of Ethiopia.

At the end of the program, Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.), speaking for the New York students, challenged other school districts in the United States to match the effort.

“We accept the challenge,” said Handler, who pointed out that Los Angeles students in February raised $120,000 to help famine victims in 14 African countries, including Ethiopia.


Details Not Complete

Although details of the two-week campaign are not complete, Handler and Sabrina Moore, the student body president at Gardena High School, said students and teachers at each of the district’s 644 schools will decide what kind of fund-raising activities can be held.

“For example, we charge 50 cents for a noon dance (at Gardena High), and I know a lot of kids will pay more to help out people in Ethiopia,” said Moore, 18.

Handler said that each school also will accept contributions from people who have no children in district schools.

District officials said the funds--deposited in a specially created district bank account--will be given to Interaction, an umbrella organization for Africa relief.

Although no other school district in the Western United States has started a famine relief campaign to match the New York effort, educators said some local schools and students have raised money for Ethiopia. One elementary school in Santa Monica, for example, raised $110 from a bake sale to send grain to Africa.