DALTON, Ga. -- Lupita Sierria turned 11 Thursday and she had just one birthday wish.
Instead of a party or presents, she said, she asked her parents to send money to help Haiti.
Lupita and Ashley Medina, 11, are heading up a project called Helping Hands for Haiti at Blue Ridge Elementary School in Dalton. Students have worked to gather needed supplies such as water, clothes and canned food.
"It's really important for us (to help) right now," said Lupita. "It's very hard for them."
Jessie Vazquez, director of the school's drama club, said the group has gotten almost 4,000 items that will be shipped to Haiti through the Red Cross and First Christ Community Church in Dalton.
"We are a high-poverty school, and the fact that our families have opened their hearts to help the people who've lost everything in Haiti really speaks volumes about the character of our community," assistant principal Alan Martineaux said in an e-mail.
Deana Farmer, director of community relations for Dalton Public Schools, said in an e-mail that Park Creek Elementary School also is holding an in-school fundraising drive to help Haiti.
Across town, Whitfield County's Cedar Ridge Elementary School is gearing up for its own project to aid Haiti.
HOW TO HELP
Cedar Ridge Elementary needs the following items by Feb. 10:
* Hand towels (15-by-25 inches up to 17-by-27 inches, no kitchen towels)
* Combs (large and sturdy, not pocket-sized)
* Nail files or fingernail clippers (no emery boards or toenail clippers)
* Bath-sized bars of soap (3 ounces and up)
* Toothbrushes (single brushes only in original wrapper, no child-size brushes)
* Money (the school must include $1 in every kit for toothpaste.)
Source: Whitfield County Schools, Billi Merk
Dyanse Guzman, 7, said she and fellow classmates at Cedar Ridge "want to help" those devastated by the recent earthquake.
The school is asking for donations for health kits. Kindergarten, first- and second-grade students will assemble the kits and send them to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, a nonprofit global humanitarian aid organization.
First-grade teacher Billi Merk is organizing the project and said the children hope to send at least 100 kits.
Assistant principal Mark Lentych said it's a school goal to teach community service.
"Anytime we can instill in our kids the idea of helping your fellow man ... we certainly think that's a great character-building project," he said.