French Club receives recognition from Haitian priest.

Chante Rutherford

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This past January, the French Club hosted a fundraiser at Chipotle. The group raised enough money to give to a Haitian church that is part of the many rebuilding processes that Haiti suffers through. Haiti, being one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, relies on donations to support its citizens. Recently, the club received recognition in a heartwarming way.

Dr. Gray, head advisor to the organization and French professor, was shocked by the gift he and the group received.

“The priest sent a letter and a picture of the kids,” Gray said. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years and to see the faces of the people that I have helped is a completely different feeling.”

Gray, before he came to Ohio, volunteered his time at his parish in Tennessee and translated telegrams from French to English, has never seen the faces of those he helped.

Haiti has suffered from many natural disasters. From Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne in 2004 to the country’s deadliest earthquake in 2010, the French-speaking country has been forced to start over. The constant destruction was making it impossible for the Haitians.

Gray didn’t even know about the gift. It was given by the Tennessee church and sent to French Club president Bri Sargent.

“She just comes up to me with the picture and email,” Gray said. “Both framed.”

While one framed treasure was sent to Ashland, one was sent to his home and to his colleague whose students helped with the donations by doing a t-shirt sale in Pennsylvania.

“It’s not like I do this as a job. For some reason, this opportunity was handed to me and I just ran with it,” Gray said.

Gray is proud of his students for choosing to get involved in his passion for volunteering over dinner at a French restaurant.

“Instead of spending $6o per person, the decision to help in a group for a group such as them is beyond amazing,” Gray said.

Bri Sargent, senior and president of French Club, was not expecting this surprise along with the books she ordered for class.

“I was shocked and just expected a thank you note. I had ordered a bunch of books and when I went to the mail room I saw the package and I wondered what I ordered,” Sargent said.

Sargent was proud that they shifted their actions about learning French from watching moves to being helpful to those in need.

For the new president in the future, Sargent hopes they keep up with this new found tradition.

“Holding this fundraiser gives French club a direction instead of just learning French,” Sargent said.

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