Student math adds up to help for homeless WEST COUNTY -- Clarksville * Highland * Glenelg * Lisbon

February 04, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

When it comes to helping the homeless, students at St. Louis School say you've got to put your money where your math is.

Not only did students from the Clarksville parochial school trudge door to door in the January chill to collect pledges of support for Churches Concerned for the Homeless, but they worked on 100 math problems in exchange for the money.

The sum of their "Math-a-thon" was $6,517.61. That's $80.731716 squared, plus one one-hundredth of a cent on an eight-digit calculator.

"I was just overwhelmed with the amount of money raised, especially with the way the economy is today," said Sister Mary Catherine, the school's principal. "We thought maybe $3,000 -- we were really going to be happy if we got that much."

Perhaps as valuable as the check the school will present to the homeless group tomorrow morning was the knowledge students gained of the county's homelessness problem and the chance to help solve it.

"I feel pretty good about it," said Tatiana Marshall, 9 1/2 , a fifth-grader from Columbia's Hickory Ridge village who raised more than $140. "I feel they can do a lot with the money we raised."

Churches Concerned for the Homeless is a multidenominational coalition aimed at helping low-income families by providing affordable housing and counseling to "break the cycle of welfare dependency," its mission statement says.

"What really helped us a lot was that the parents were really involved in this group," said science and math teacher Eileen Hogan, who coordinated the math-a-thon.

The students were introduced to the idea at a Jan. 5 assembly, at which a member of Churches Concerned for the Homeless told the children about the county's problem with homelessness.

"I think a lot of the students didn't realize that there were actually homeless children in Howard County," Ms. Hogan said.

Tatiana said, "I heard about Baltimore and Washington, where there are a lot of poor people, but I was kind of surprised about Howard County."

A classmate of Tatiana's, 11-year-old Shannon Riley of North Laurel, had to compete with her two fourth-grade brothers for pledges.

"I tried to run to the houses before they got there," said Shannon, who managed to raise about $90.

Champions in the effort were St. Louis first-graders, who raised $1,780 and averaged $34.90 each.

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