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Daniel Perry rallies children to help other...


Daniel Perry rallies children to help other children

Who says a 9-year-old can't have clout?

Surely not Daniel Perry.

After reading about starving children in Somalia, he rallied his classmates, raised $2,000, attracted the attention of the United Nations and wound up in next month's Good Housekeeping magazine.

His efforts to help others also have become a national movement -- "Children Helping Children -- Horn of Africa Relief."

"I felt I really needed to do something. No one else was," he says.

It all started after Daniel saw newspaper photos of dying children in Somalia. He banded together with other students at his school, Mater Amoris Montessori in Montgomery County, and raised money through bake sales and door-to-door solicitations. Then they met with a U.N. official, who suggested they use the money to build a school in a small village north of Somalia.

Not content with this one project, Daniel and his classmates contacted schools throughout the United States, asking them to participate. He's also written to non-profit foundations for help.

Although fund-raising has cut into his favorite pastimes -- reading and going to the movies -- Daniel says he doesn't mind.

One thing you won't find him doing again is organizing another bake sale.

"If you'd baked something like a thousand muffins," he says, "I don't think you'd want to see muffins again either."

When Andrew Bragen heard his latest play read aloud, he sat clutching a bottle of wine.

"I drank it in the first four pages," he says.

The play wasn't bad; his nerves were.

Perhaps the young playwright was also sympathizing with the prickly characters who inhabit his work -- unemployed fathers, cheap roommates and drunks.

They talk without ever saying much in the quirky comedies that Mr. Bragen, a Hopkins senior, has written in the last three years.

He got his first taste of theater as a youngster in New York. He and his mother often spent weekends at Broadway shows.

After taking a Hopkins seminar with playwright Tina Howe, he became serious about writing drama. Of the 20 pieces written in that class, his monologue was one of only four to be performed.

Inspired by this first try, he and several other students formed Witness Theatre, an organization for students interested in theater careers.

The group will perform several one-act plays at Hopkins' Merrick Barn Friday through Sunday. Mr. Bragen's "I Hate New York," a comedy about twentysomethings in a basement studio apartment, will be among them.

Having learned from his first experience, Mr. Bragen, 21, has decided not to attend next weekend's performances.

"I'm not watching," he says. "I'm petrified."

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