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Lemonade Sumatra aid

March 26, 2005

Michael Miller

When Newport Heights Elementary School started a drive to benefit

tsunami victims, Jesse and Matthew Torres didn't hesitate to join.

Returning home from school one day, they and classmate Hunter Durante

made lemonade in the kitchen and carted a wagon full of it to Santa

Ana Avenue. They had only a handmade sign asking "Help the tsunami

victims," but advertising wasn't a problem.

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"People were throwing money at them," said their mother, PTA

President Terry Torres. "They didn't even want the lemonade. They

made $25 in one hour, and then they brought it back in a bag and

said, 'Mom, can you give this to [principal] Mr. Suhr?'"

As it turned out, donations of many kinds -- from lemonade stands

to piggy banks to checkbooks -- flowed into Newport Heights'

fundraising program. On Friday, during the weekly Flag Day ceremony

on the field, the student council presented a check for $2,125 to

Bill Sharp, the director of the Sumatra Surfzone Relief Operation.

Sharp, the father of two Newport Heights students, started

Surfzone Relief last January to benefit residents of Sumatra, an

island of Indonesia. Twice, Sharp and his group -- composed of people

in the local surfing industry -- have traveled by boat to Sumatra to

deliver food, medical aid and other needed supplies. The money raised

by Newport Heights students will go toward two needs: supplies for

the island's remote schoolhouses and for canoeing and fishing

equipment.

Sharp, who said the students' donations "brought tears to my

eyes," has personally visited the types of schools in Sumatra that

the funds will benefit.

"It's structurally very different from here, but spiritually the

same," Sharp said. "They don't have beautiful air-conditioned

classrooms. They mostly have a shack with a mat on it.

"But it's the same thing. They have a teacher and maybe 20

students. They have books and a white board to write the lesson on.

They don't have a district, but each village has a school structure."

Sumatra, located next to Malaysia, was devastated by the tidal

waves that hit on Dec. 26 last year. While the island itself may be

unknown to most American grade-schoolers, at least one Newport

Heights student had a personal connection to the tsunami tragedy.

"I was devastated because my aunt lives in Thailand," said

sixth-grader Cooper Scott, the student council president. "We didn't

hear from her for two weeks after the tsunamis. She was fine, because

she lives in the gulf."

At first, principal Kurt Suhr and fourth-grade teacher Quinn

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