Thoreau students, Kirkland business raise money for victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Thoreau Elementary Principal Mylinda Mallon, student Zeke Marsh, third grade teacher Caroline Amundsen and student Fraxz Padilla stand at the school. The students hold coin drive cans for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. - Raechel Dawson/ Kirkland Reporter
Thoreau Elementary Principal Mylinda Mallon, student Zeke Marsh, third grade teacher Caroline Amundsen and student Fraxz Padilla stand at the school. The students hold coin drive cans for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
— image credit: Raechel Dawson/ Kirkland Reporter

Eight-year-old Fraxz Padilla lay in bed thinking about what could be done after he saw the impact of Typhoon Haiyan on TV one evening in November.

“When I heard about the typhoon it was a nightmare come true,” said Fraxz, whose mother knows someone affected by the typhoon.

The next morning, 9-year-old Zeke Marsh heard about the environmental disaster from his mother.

“We talked about how we as a family could help and that we’d look into it,” said Lisette Randich, Zeke’s mother.

Fraxz and Zeke, friends since kindergarten, went to their third grade classroom at Thoreau Elementary - an average day or so it seemed.

The friends were together in a reading group with third-grade teacher Caroline Amundsen when she asked her students what was going on in the world. The discussion for that day was government and community, she said.

The boys spoke about the typhoon and, when prompted how the Thoreau community could help, the idea for a coin drive to benefit the victims was born.

The boys created a list and planned out who they should advertise to, how they should advertise, when the coin drive would start and finish and how much money they would donate.

But before they could take action, they needed to go through the system.

Fraxz wrote a letter to Principal Mylinda Mallon, the PTA and the Thoreau Leadership Community explaining the details of their plan.

The coin drive would be an ongoing effort from Nov. 25 through January. With help from Amundsen, collection cans were placed in 13 classrooms with the goal of raising $500 to donate to the typhoon victims through the Red Cross.

Zeke and Fraxz took to the morning announcements to remind their peers to donate and have plans of putting posters around the school.

They’ve raised $218 so far.

“I’d feel actually really sad and homeless and needful,” said Fraxz, reflecting on the typhoon’s impact. “I would need a lot of things.”

Zeke agrees.

“I’d feel lonely because a lot of people got their families lost and maybe even died a little bit so I think I’d be a lot lonely and sad,” he said.

But both agree it feels good to give back.

“[Zeke’s] always thinking pretty big, pretty worldly,” Randich said. “We have helped with the victims of Hurricane Katrina but it was nothing like what he’s organized … Whenever he hears about people in need, he’s the first person to want to help but this is the first time its come to fruition.”

Fraxz said his family is also very excited he’s helping.

“They think it’s really good and important because there’s been great damage and loss,” he said.

Amundsen said their next step is to create a Power Point presentation for teachers or students during lunch in the cafeteria so that they can continue to raise awareness of their coin drive and how it can help.

“I’m just really proud of them going through this process,” said Amundsen. “We’ve learned a lot about getting approval for projects and going forth with it.”

With a daily count of about $20, Amundsen is impressed with the contributions in such a short amount of time.

In addition the PTA’s support, the Lake Washington School District has been advertising the coin drive in the staff news letter, which reaches faculty in all of Kirkland, Redmond and Sammamish.

“It’s nice to recognize these guys for being leaders and just trying to do something for somebody else at a very young age,” said Mallon. “One of the things we try to talk to kids about is that culture of caring, concern and respect for others. So, I think it’s pretty cool they’ve taken it, internalized it and taken it to a global perspective.”

Members of the Kirkland business community are also reaching out to help with the typhoon that killed thousands and left more homeless and displaced.

The CEO of the Kirkland-based Revel Consulting Vikas Kamran sent an email to the lead of the company’s Sustainable Giving program on Nov. 13.

“I want to give back to the 2 [million] in need and I know our associates feel the same,” wrote Kamran in the email. “With millions without food, water and other basics, we have an opportunity to help make a meaningful difference in their lives by contributing to recovery efforts. Let’s send an email later this afternoon to collect charitable donations for recovery efforts in the Philippines.”

Kamran said for every dollar donated to the American Red Cross, he would give two.

Within minutes donations receipts from Red Cross started to come in.

“...This literally hits home for me as my dad’s side of the family is from the Philippines,” said Revel associate Ty Madarang in a news release. “I have connected with some of my relatives and from what I have gathered they are OK, but so many aren’t. I’m absolutely delighted Revel is making an effort to help with this tragic event.”

As Revel Consulting employees continued to donate, the word was spread to their family members and others.

In less than 60 hours, a total of 43 Revel associates contributed $5,149, which put the total to $15,447 with Kamran’s match.

“We were all really surprised by how many people reacted in such a short amount of time,” said Chad Hall, a spokesperson for Revel Consulting.

Revel Consulting has been in Kirkland for about five years and employs around 150 people.

To donate toward the Thoreau Elementary school coin drive, visit the school’s main office at 8224 138th Ave. NE in the Finn Hill neighborhood of Kirkland. Checks may be made out to Thoreau PTA.

To donate directly to the Red Cross to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, visit


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