Bellevue girl Hoggan, adopted from China, aids earthquake relief effort

When nine-year-old Kamille Hoggan heard about the Sichuan earthquake that devastated parts of China this past May, she only had one thought - those could be her family members.

When nine-year-old Kamille Hoggan heard about the Sichuan earthquake that devastated parts of China this past May, she only had one thought - those could be her family members.

Originally from China, Kamille was adopted and brought to the United States in 1999. Like so many other Americans, she watched the aftermath of the earthquake unfold on the news from the safety of her family’s home in Bellevue. The earthquake hit on May 12 and measured at a surface wave magnitude of 8.0 with tremors felt 1,056 miles away in Shanghai. The “Great Sichuan Earthquake” left 4.8 million people homeless, 270,000 injured, and an estimated 69,197 people dead.

Kamille was moved to act. She set a goal of raising $2,000 and launched her own China earthquake relief fund that she called “Give a Helping Hand.” She designed the concept for a T-shirt that she has given to anyone who makes a $20 donation or more by writing a check directly to the American Red Cross. To date, she has raised $2,002 that she hopes will help purchase medicine, casts and Band-Aids for those injured from the earthquake.

Born in 1998 in the Guangxi Autonomous Region of China, Kamille was taken to an orphanage after being abandoned on a street corner. Uncertain of the exact date of her birth, she was adopted by Kathy Hoggan and brought to the United States when she was around one.

“When Kamille saw the coverage of the earthquake on TV, the first thing she wanted to do was look at a map and figure out if that was right where she was born. She saw the devastation and heard about the children that were in the schools who were crushed and she thought - those could be my cousins,” Kathy Hoggan explained, who currently works with the University of Washington as the associate director of Creative Communications. “She doesn’t know exactly where she was born or her exact birthday so all she could suppose when the earthquake hit was that in a way, that was her whole family.”

Kamille, along with the help from her older sister Katelyn, began their fundraising effort in June. Kathy Hoggan encouraged her daughters’ efforts and teamed up with American Red Cross to ensure that the money raised would go to the China relief.

At first, Kamille brainstormed ideas such as selling Kool-Aid, but decided on the old-fashion way of simply asking friends and family to financially support the relief effort in China. Kamille wrote a detailed letter explaining what she was doing and why. She e-mailed friends and family and passed out letters to classmates at her school.

Her cousin and best friend, nine-year-old Kylie Malyon, got on board with the fundraising efforts. Together, they set up a booth in front of Suzan’s Nails at Crossroads Mall in hopes of gathering more donations.

“People started sending letters from as far away as the Ukraine and Moldova,” Kathy Hoggan said, adding that Kamille would hand write a personal thank you to every person who sent her a response. “She e-mailed her friends and they forwarded the e-mail to their friends and family all over the world.”

Those who made donations received one of the original T-shirts designed by Kamille and her sister. Kamille chose the color red for the shirts because it is considered the lucky color in China. A graphic designer then took over the design and created the final art silkscreen.

To keep track of the responses, her mother hung large signs on the wall in the kitchen where the two sisters would write down the name of every person who responded with letters or check donations. With such a positive response, Kamille and her family have decided to extend the campaign a few more weeks and have set a new goal of $3,000.

You can help

Kamille and her cousin, Kylie, will have a booth set up in Crossroads Mall from noon to 5 p.m. today. Those who donate $20 or more with a written check will receive a free T-shirt and a tax receipt by mail from the American Red Cross. Crossroads Mall is located at Northeast Eight Street and 156th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue.