- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
This year, Joseline “Josi” Pretto Simmons, 8, and her brother, Jeremie, 6, celebrated their birthdays by giving instead of getting. The pair hosted a day of fundraising to help the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, who consequently once again fell victim to another disaster, Hurricane Sandy, according to a press release.
In lieu of presents for their birthdays, (Oct. 7 and Oct. 26, respectively), Josi and Jeremie requested party guests make a donation toward their annual fundraiser that supports mission trips to help Haiti. Their recent effort yielded nearly $500 to again help Haiti.
On Jan. 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti. At age 6, Josi was so deeply moved by the horrific earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 300,000 people, injured 300,000 more and left more than 1.5 million people homeless, according to the release. She decided to use her passion for ice skating to help Haiti. She and her then-4-year-old brother participated in a skate-a-thon to help Haiti at Bowie Ice Arena just weeks after the devastating earthquake. In January 2011, to mark the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, Josi did a skating solo tribute/fundraiser at the University of Delaware’s Synchronized Skating Send-Off Exhibition. In 2012, the pair were joined by fellow skating supporters to “Skate for Something Great” to again raise money to help feed orphaned children and rebuild schools, homes and buildings damaged by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The birthday fundraiser benefits the fourth annual “Skate for Something Great” fundraiser scheduled for Jan. 12, 2013, at Tucker Road Ice Rink in Fort Washington.
During this past summer, both Josi and Jeremie traveled to Haiti for a mission trip to Lebrun. Shortly after their return from Haiti, the pair established “Liv Sa,” a children’s literacy empowerment project. It is an English literacy book collection project that helps to establish community-based libraries in underprivileged villages throughout Haiti. Liv Sa donates new and gently used children’s books. During the summer of 2012, Josi and Jeremie were first to donate several hundred books to a newly established library in the village of LeBrun. They hope to collect and donate at least 1,000 books for a library they are planning to establish in Haiti in 2013.
“I am so proud of their commitment and compassion to help others. They are two amazing kids who often think of others before themselves. They are conscientious children who always want to ‘do the right thing.’ Their spirit for change is enlightening. Their desire to rectify the ills identified in both their local and global community is uplifting and inspiring to all of those who know them. Josi and Jeremie have such a big heart for such small children. They just want to give others hope — something my mother dreamed of as a child in Haiti,” said Nance Pretto Simmons, Josi and Jeremie’s mother, in the release. “I am so proud of them for doing their part to help make a difference in the world by giving instead of getting on their birthdays … not a lot of kids would do that!”
Josi and Jeremie also plan to use a portion of the donations to start a “STAR” anti-bully chapter at their school, the release states.