Sarah Henning, 9, has been passionate about two things throughout her young life: soccer and helping others. Recently, the Union School student has been working to pair the two by raising money to fund soccer programs in Haiti.
Sarah’s fundraising efforts began in 2010, after seeing the devastation Haitian families suffered as a result of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake and dozens of aftershocks. The earthquake took the lives of thousands of Haitians and left many more homeless.
“I heard on the news that there was an earthquake and all the houses got torn apart and some families got hurt in it. I kind of wanted to help because I saw how fortunate my family was and how little they have,” Sarah said.
So she began to make things and sell them to friends and family. At first, she made simple string bracelets her older sister taught her to make, then potholders. Sarah’s first effort resulted in $67 and the second, $250. She sent it to benefit the Haitian people in a general way.
But though the images of Haiti faded from television screens and from most people’s consciousness, Sarah was determined to keep helping.
“[The earthquake] was all over at the time and it was odd how she saw it and the devastation really just struck her,” Sarah’s mom, Julie said. “But I figured it wouldn’t amount to much. After she made those little string bracelets, I thought it would fizzle and then she said ‘I’ve got to make something else; I didn’t make enough money.’"
Sarah wanted to go beyond just selling to family and friends. She went through her neighborhood and then soccer season started. Between Sarah and her older sister, the family spent hours at and Sarah decided it would be a good place to set up a table.
She also wanted to find a cause to directly support in Haiti. After lots of online research, the family found Patrice Millet’s FONDNAPS, which aims to care for and teach Haitian children through soccer. According to the organization’s website, FONDNAPS also works to organize leagues, provide facilities for play and ensure participants have adequate food, clothing and school tuition.
Sarah designed and ordered silicone bracelets imprinted with the saying “Bring Soccer to the World” and set up tables at FSA to sell them. Within two hours, Sarah had sold about 150 bracelets, according to Julie, who with her husband coaches soccer in Farmington. So far, she’s raised $250.
Sarah started playing soccer at age 3 in Winding Trails’ Little Feet program before moving on to Farmington Recreation’s Youth Soccer Program. Now she plays on a Farmington travel team and a premier team at FSA.
Her hope is that she can help children in Haiti enjoy the same opportunity.
“Since the earthquake, it has gotten better but they’re still not as fortunate as we are and they could use our help,” Sarah said. “I’m going to keep finding ways to help them.”
Bracelets are still available for purchase for $3 from Sarah Hennig to support soccer in Haiti. Anyone who is interested may contact Julie Hennig at email@example.com.