DUNCANVILLE - Originally from Haiti, a teacher from the Duncanville Independent School District was hit personally by the tragedy.
The earthquake left the family of Louis Adam, who teaches French at Kennemer Middle School, homeless. That news spurred his students into action, collecting and donating money to Port Au Prince.
Adam was born in Haiti, and he and his brother have built medical clinics and a school there. The stories of hardship in Haiti is something Adam shared with his students long before the earthquake.
When the tragedy hit, Adam left North Texas to help his family in Haiti. While he was gone, his students went to work. Upon his return, he was welcomed by a surprise he never expected.
"Walking in these hallways and every kid is giving me hugs," he said. "They really care. It helped me to be receptive of kindness and love."
Students decided to created "Pennies for Port Au Prince," a district-wide program that began this week.
"Mr. Adams was very devastated about his family back home and that devastated us," said Mia Radillo, a student.
The hope is to collect money to rebuild the more than 21 schools Adam personally saw destroyed in Haiti.
"Education is they key to Haiti's success, to get it out of where it is now," he said.
Education is what is empowering local students to pay it forward.
"By us getting involved in it, more students start to ask, 'Can we help?'" Radillo said.
The National Junior Honor Society is leading the way on the project and plan to place donation buckets in the majority of the Duncanville schools.