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Herriman Journal

Students collect hundreds of tents for Haitians

Dec 16, 2021 09:39AM ● By Jet Burnham

Ashinti St Clair, Clark Fiedler and Sofia Ampudia Arroyo kick off a partnership with Cucina Deli. (Photo courtesy of Julianna Wing.)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Herriman High business students are making the world a better place, one project at a time.

One team of students, Ashinti St Clair, Clark Fiedler and Sofia Ampudia Arroyo, collected 387 tents and two large boxes of soap and flip flops to send to Haiti. It was St Clair’s idea to help Haitians after an earthquake hit the country this summer. The natural disaster hit home for the Haitian native because she experienced the same thing herself, living in a parking lot for a year after the 2011 earthquake damaged her home. Now living in South Jordan, she reached out to every organization she could find but struggled to find one who would accept donations. Even after she decided to make it her business class project, she and her teammates struggled to get the project off the ground. Even their teacher was doubtful they would have much success.

It was a slow start and they were about to abandon their project but it eventually began to gain traction. The students worked hard to promote their project, setting up an Amazon Wishlist, selling cotton candy, and flooding the community with donation QR codes. They secured a partnership with the owner of Cucina Deli, who ran a promotion for customers who donated tents to the student’s project. They caught the attention of the media and the students were interviewed by local newspapers, T.V. news reporters and radio stations.

The students reached out to countless organizations on every platform they could access and, finally, “like finding a needle in a haystack,” they found the Haitiain Health Foundation, who could ship the donations to Haiti.

They were surprised by people's generosity and by how big the project grew as they applied the marketing skills they’d learned in their business classes.

“It's about how you can get people to understand where you're coming from and how you get your idea out there,” Fiedler said.

His teammates said Fiedler is a natural salesman.

“He convinced seven people to buy tents on the spot,” St Clair said.

“If he's not a salesman, he's wasting his life,” Ampudia said.

Working on the project helped all three students realize how much they enjoy marketing, planning events, and making and maintaining business relationships.

“This project helped me realize that I really, really enjoy it,Ampudia said. “I’m just so excited for the future, knowing that I can do this for a living.”

Other groups of HHS students applied their business skills to develop projects such as creating an app, and designing and executing a marketing strategy for a new local coffee shop. 

Grace Hymas, Savannah Linton and Erika Bond teamed up with three community nonprofits to pilot Clever Coping, a weekly class for teens who struggle with suicide ideation or have experienced trauma to learn coping skills through art.

Hymas also worked with Challyze Cotubay on a project to organize a cookie bake-off as part of Homecoming Week. They invited ten local business owners to be the judges and then to talk to business students about branding, a key detail of entrepreneurship, Hymas said.

Hymas was inspired by the business owners who started their companies with little more than an idea.

“It's cool to see how simple ideas and small things can become such big and impactful businesses,” she said.

Students will prepare a paper and an oral presentation documenting their projects to compete in state and regional FBLA competitions in 2022.

The students credit their business teacher, Rickee Stewart, for being a big support to their projects, even though, as with the tent collection project, she didn’t think it would be successful.

“We come to her with an idea and she tells us ‘it is a terrible idea, but you can still try it’ or she says ‘it's a great idea and here's what you can do to make it better,’” St Clair said. “She still let us try, even though she thought it was a bad idea, and we learned from it.”

Stewart has been the catalyst for some incredible projects in the past, including collecting thousands of coats for the homeless through her wedding registry and helping her students do a similar project a few years later.

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