BANGOR, Maine — Fifteen schools around the state have signed up to partner with the Galen L. Cole Disaster Relief Program to raise funds to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
The schools were among the 29 that last week were invited to join in the project because they have been most active in bringing students to Cole Land Transportation Museum to visit the museum and interview veterans through the Ambassadors of Patriotism program.
Galen Cole, founder of the museum and the Cole Family Foundation, said Thursday he was thrilled to have the schools agree to raise money for Haitian relief.
The Cole Disaster Relief Program will match what each school raises, up to $2,500 per school.
Cole, who was wounded and saw five of his fellow servicemen killed while in the U.S. Army in Europe, expressed compassion for what the Haitians have suffered, especially the children.
“What those kids are going through down there,” he said Thursday, “is far more severe than what I went through in World War II. If I’d lost my entire family and been 6 years old — think of it.”
For years, Cole and the Cole Museum have been involved in efforts to honor veterans and to educate youngsters about patriotism.
The Cole Family Foundation also has been involved in helping efforts such as Reading Recovery, the Maine Dental Association and Kids’ Consortium.
The matching grant program for Haitian relief would accomplish two things, Cole said.
It would help fill a humanitarian need, and it would give the students participating “something that will help them the rest of their life,” he said, the gift of learning how to give to those in need at a young age.
Hermon Superintendent Patricia Duran on Thursday said Hermon Middle School has taken students to the Cole Museum to interview veterans for many years.
“When they hear that history, it comes alive,” she said.
Duran was pleased to have Hermon schools get involved with the matching grant project.
“I’m very enthused, very excited,” she said. “We had students go to the principal the very day the article came out in the Bangor Daily News, saying they wanted to do something.”
Duran praised Cole for proposing the matching grant project.
“He is teaching our children to give back to the community,” she said, adding that the matching grant offered an incentive. “They want to raise every cent they can.
“They are learning to give back, and I think that’s incredibly important,” Duran said.
For information, call 990-3600.