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Rachel Wheeler, Food For The Poor Help Build 27 Homes In Haiti

First Posted: 11/15/11 08:57 AM ET Updated: 12/29/11 02:25 PM ET

Rachel Wheeler

When 12-year-old Rachel Wheeler was greeted with songs and praise in the Haitian village she helped develop, she felt satisfied. But, she also decided in that moment on her next pressing philanthropic project to pursue.

The budding humanitarian plans to raise money to construct a school for kids who lost theirs in the 2010 earthquake, FoodForThePoor.org reports.

"You can't just sit around and think about doing it," Rachel told the Miami Herald. "You got to actually get out there and do it."

The Zion Lutheran School sixth grader first learned about the extreme destitution Haiti's residents face when she attended a Food For The Poor meeting in 2009 with her mom. When Rachel heard that the kids eat mud cookies and live in cardboard houses because they're so poor, she vowed to help make a difference, NBC reports.

"Rachel didn't just want to help," her mother, Julie, told the news outlet, "but she said she had to help."

Rachel partnered with Food For The Poor, an international relief organization that feeds 2 million impoverished people daily. The then 9-year-old committed to raising enough money to build 12 homes in a small village just outside of Port-au-Prince.

Rachel collected funds by organizing bake sales, passing a donation can at homecoming games and selling homemade potholders at her Deerfield Beach, Fla. school, according to NBC. She turned to her parents' friends and her church for help and the Lighthouse Point Chamber of Commerce sent two substantial checks her way.

In just three years, her fundraising efforts surpassed $250,000, enough to erect 27 concrete two-room homes. Each is equipped with an area for beds and a living space, CBS reports.

The area was dubbed "Rachel's Village."

"Little children will lead us and teach us how to do things," Robin Mahfood, President and CEO for Food For The Poor, told the news outlet. "It is amazing. She is a tremendous girl."

Rachel intends to continue to lead the way by rebuilding a local school that was devastated in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2010, according to Food For The Poor. The school's 250 students currently attend classes in a shabby one-room structure that frequently floods.

"I want to build a school because they need education to make their lives better so they can learn and teach their own children how to have a better life," Rachel told the nonprofit.

Rachel has hit the halfway mark in her fundraising efforts for building the school in Leogane, according to NBC, and is determined to reach her goal.

"I don't believe I can snap my fingers and change Haiti overnight," she told NBC. "I know I have to work at it."

Want to help Rachel's cause? Donate here or mail your tax-deductible donation to Food For The Poor, 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073. Make checks payable to "Food For The Poor" and include the special source code "SC# 80982."
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Filed by Eleanor Goldberg  |