Elkhart custodian helps hurricane victims in Haiti

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By Eric Steltzer --esteltzer@abc57.com

ELKHART, Ind. -- In the wake of Hurricane Sandy killing more than 50 people in Haiti, an Elkhart custodian is raising money to help students there in need.

She says they have been struggling to recover since 2010, when a powerful earthquake devastated the country.

Monique Harris has been living in Elkhart her entire life, and is the head custodian at Riverview Elementary School in Elkhart. She says she has gone to Haiti every year since the earthquake, and pays her way there with the help of the community, students, and faculty who work inside the school.

Harris walks the halls of Riverview nearly every day of the week, but when she's not cleaning, she's trying to figure out how to help the nearly 300 students going to a school in Haiti that desperately needs help.

"We have free education, but in Haiti they only have hope or faith that some body will help them have a education. The only way they can have a education is if someone else provides it for them" said Harris.

Throughout the year, she and people at the school have been raising money for her trip, money for school supplies, food and new shoes for Haiti students.

"I cry. Every time one set comes in to support Haiti I cry. It's amazing to me that they would be so compassionate about somebody they don't really know." said Harris.

Harris says some students even donated their own Christmas gifts.

Riverview Principal Barb Cripe says the custodian is a rock star to all the students in the building.

"We at Riverview are so proud of Monique for the work she does for the children in Haiti because we feel like supporting children anywhere in the world is fantastic" said Cripe.

Harris's trip was originally planned for November, but that was canceled because of Hurricane Sandy. Now with all the extra devastation, she will continue her fund-raising and is going back to Haiti after the holidays.

She says she will not be traveling alone, rather with several members of her church.

If you want to help her cause, she says they will take donations at her church Power of Hope Ministries or powerofhope.org or SakalGlobalNations.com. 

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