Hastening to help those hit by hurricane
Chopticon, St. Mary’s College collect for relief efforts in Texas
Although the opportunity to donate supplies for those affected by Hurricane Harvey at Chopticon High School passed last week, community members still have a chance to contribute to St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s disaster relief effort this month.
Students with the college’s student government association have initiated St. Mary’s College Cares, a disaster relief effort to collect nonperishable items for a Texas school district with an estimated enrollment of 65,000 students.
Campus and communi- ty members who want to bring supplies by can do so on Sept. 22 and 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
St. Mary’s College Foundation Board Member Jack Saum Jr. said in an interview Wednesday he lent a truck to take collected supplies to Pasadena Independent School District in Texas. The truck will be headed there the last weekend of September, he said.
Saum said the relief effort is “different in a small way,” because it involves collecting mostly classroom resources, such as pens, pencils and paper, as
well as area rugs and bean bags for classrooms.
Items requested also included new, packaged socks, paper towels and “all types of nonperishable food items,” according to a college release.
When efforts like these are coordinated, Saum said “the first reaction is to collect water and other day-to-day supplies … but we’ve carved out a little niche and focused on” mostly classroom supplies such as book bags and notebooks.
Saum said it is important “to get students involved with raising supplies for those [in the Houston area] because it promotes the college’s mission and teaches them about philanthropy.”
Almost 80 percent of the school district’s 65,000 students qualifies for free- and reduced-price meals, Cindy Palmer, Pasadena Independent School District director of community relations said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
“It was not a good situation before Hurricane Harvey … and we were hit hard,” she said.
Palmer said the Texan school district, located in one of Houston’s suburbs, is connected to Southern Maryland by SMCM grad Jamie Gilman, who works in the area as a sailing coach.
“It’s strange how these connections work out,” Palmer said. “We can certainly use the help.”
She said three of the district’s 67 campuses “were totally lost” due to flooding. Palmer said some of the campuses were moderately damaged, but the biggest impact was on students’ homes in the surrounding neighborhoods. “We just started school two weeks ago … and now we’re back at square one again,” she said.
“Most of the teachers have lost their classroom furniture” and this relief effort will help the teachers outfit their rooms again, Palmer said. Students will be returning to class Monday, she said.
St. Mary’s College students “follow the St. Mary’s Way, a concept adopted by the college community that centers on respecting one another and the world around us,” Tuajuanda Jordan, college president, said in the release. “By initiating this disaster relief effort, our students not only are following their code of conduct but showing that they care deeply and want to respond.” More responding to call for help
The Southern Maryland community responded last week to the call to aid those affected by the hurricane with truckloads and carloads of supplies, Chopticon Assistant Principal Shelley McDaniel said. The front office was swamped with baby supplies, blankets and towels and other items before being loaded on a truck provided by Russell Brothers LLC of Morganza to take to Hancock Family Farms in La Plata, McDaniel said. The supplies will end up at the Crosby Fire Department in Houston.
McDaniel said she distributed a list of needed supplies to Chopticon teachers and staff earlier last week that she received from Dave Hancock of Hancock Family Farms. Items such as hand sanitizer, canned and dried foods, batteries, socks and flip flops were included on the list, she continued.
“The response has just been overwhelming,” McDaniel said. Community members “who don’t have kids in school” came by to drop things off, she said.
“We had a guy come in with a brand-new pair of Nike slides,” she continued. The man said he had purchased the shoes for himself, but said “he knew these people needed them more,” McDaniel said.
No clothing was accepted for the supply collection because “we don’t want to send them what they didn’t ask for,” McDaniel said. Pet supplies such as leashes and food were also accepted, and were driven to staff at Last Chance Animal Rescue in Waldorf before reaching a destination in Texas, she said.
Carmen Russell, a 2006 Chopticon graduate, said she heard about the supply collection when she was “scrolling through Facebook” and saw the supply list post. She said she asked her supervisor at Prince Frederick Dental Center if she could donate surplus toothpaste and toothbrushes, and was told to “take what you want.”
According to a Sept. 3 post on the Hancock Family Farm’s Facebook page, they “will no longer be taking donations” as they have filled a truck up with supplies. The hashtag, #fromsomdtotexaswithlove, was included in other posts detailing the relief effort on the social media page. Hancock did not respond to requests for comment.
For more information about what to donate through St. Mary’s College, check out www.smcm.edu/news/2017/09/ students- initiate- disaster- relief- ef for t- help- 56000- students-families-devastated-hurricane-harvey.
Chopticon High School Assistant Principal Shelley McDaniel holds a bag of donated goods last Friday to place in a truck to be taken to Hancock Family Farms in La Plata before making its final destination at the Crosby Fire Department in Houston.
Up to three feet of water fills an orchestra room at Thompson Intermediate School in Texas, one of the 67 Pasadena Independent School District campuses to be affected by Hurricane Harvey, Cindy Palmer, the school district’s director of community relations, said Wednesday.
Community members in Pasadena, Texas, sift through donated supplies.