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Kitsap residents make a difference in Haiti

Silverdale surgeon and intensivist Chris Carr holds Haitian earthquake survivor Luciano Josene, 8, at a clinic in Barahona, Dominican Republic. Carr returned from his week on Hispaniola Jan. 29.  - Courtesy Photo
Silverdale surgeon and intensivist Chris Carr holds Haitian earthquake survivor Luciano Josene, 8, at a clinic in Barahona, Dominican Republic. Carr returned from his week on Hispaniola Jan. 29.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

What Chris Carr remembers most from his trip to Haiti is not the broken lives devastated by the earthquake, but the joy he saw in the severely injured children he treated.

Carr, a Silverdale surgeon and intensivist, spent Jan. 24 to 29 in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, caring for young earthquake victims with large wounds, many of them amputees.

The children he saw lost not only parents and siblings, but also limbs.

“Within seconds their lives were completely altered,” he said.

Carr, who also co-owns Anytime Fitness in Silverdale, worked in clinics in Barahona and Jimani, Dominican Republic, just over the border from Haiti, with the Silverdale-based ministry, Children of the Nations. He also helped convoy food to a Haitian orphanage.

Carr is one of countless Kitsap individuals, organizations and businesses that have responded to the crisis in Haiti since the magnitude 7.0 earthquake Jan. 12.

Kitsap residents have been ready to help with money, supplies and time. Even young people are organizing for the cause.

Central Kitsap Junior High’s Honors Society organized a “Hats for Haiti” fundraiser on Jan. 27, allowing students who donated at least a dollar to the American Red Cross to break school rules and wear a hat for the day. The effort raked in $550.

“We definitely have a caring and dedicated group of students,” Principal Susan Jung said. “Great students want to do great things.”

At Bremerton High School, junior Nicole Laxague organized a lunchtime change drive, which has so far raised $330, said Lisa Gordon-Ramstad, a teacher at the school. Laxague and other students will also collect money at the school’s tolo dance Feb. 13, themed “A Knight in the Caribbean.”

Olympic High School students began a T-shirt sale on Monday, hoping to raise $250 for the Red Cross with the sales of the $5 shirts, principle Bob Barnes said. The art club also hopes to auction original student artwork for the cause next month.

Silver Ridge Elementary collected $667 with its coin drive, and Silverdale Elementary brought in $585 and counting - this in addition to the many other schools hosting their own fundraisers.

Doctors, nurses and staff from Naval Hospital Bremerton await the green light to head to Haiti and could leave any day on a disaster assistance mission that could last six weeks to six months. Doug Stutz, the hospital’s public affairs officer, said the mission’s length would probably be closer to the latter.

“There’s so much to do there,” he said. “Now it’s a daunting task.”

Fifteen Naval Hospital staff members departed on Jan. 20, and 45 more are on call.

Local businesses are also lending a hand. The Pour House Pub in Bremerton has kept a donation jar on its bar since the day after the earthquake, collecting an average of $50 a week for Mercy Corps, co-owner Carol Zach said.

“People have been very generous,” she said.

The Kitsap Mall has continuously collected donations at its guest services desk since Jan. 25. Anytime Fitness, which Carr co-owns with his wife, Jackie, brought in almost $1,000 in money and supplies for Children of the Nation’s efforts.

Rebuilding from the earthquake will take years, Carr said, but small efforts from Kitsap donors can make a difference.

“Our parts are very small, but you take us and multiply us by thousands and it’s quite an ongoing effort,” he said.

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