Generosity and compassion have been running wild through the fifth-grade hallway at Westside Elementary School in Rossville during the past couple of weeks, as students have been collecting school supplies to donate to the flood victims in Louisiana.
According to reading and social studies teacher Caleb Parker, the students have really taken an interest in helping out their peers in Louisiana, who attend a different Westside Elementary School along the Gulf Coast.
“We started …. around Aug. 19,” Parker said. “The flooding had just stopped, but there was more rain coming. I was having dinner with my Dad one night, and we were talking about it. … Is there something we can do, maybe we can help and collect school supplies, and so on. People usually take money and clothes but we knew the parents would have to send the kids back to school and that they would need school supplies.”
As fate would have it, the students who were displaced actually shared the same school name.
“We found out there was a Westside Elementary School in Lafayette, La.,” Parker said. “We talked to the kids about it the next day and they were all on board with it. … Every single one of them wanted to help, take part, and do something.”
Parker coordinated with fellow teachers Heather Willis and Angel Davidson to make it a cohesive fifth-grade effort that has also expanded out into the community.
“The response we’ve gotten has just been incredible,” Parker said. “The amount of generosity the kids and their parents have shown … there are even people in the community that heard about it that have come and donated stuff. Walmart and Office Depot have chipped in with donations also.”
The school will continue to collect supplies through Sept. 9.
“When we’re done collecting, we’ll take a count and see what we have,” Parker said. “We’re going to try to use the United States Postal Service or UPS, but the thought is that we’ll even rent a U-Haul if we have to, to get it all down there. … I’ll take it down there myself if we need to.”
Anyone looking to donate supplies is encouraged to contact the school at 706-866-9211.
The school is only looking for school supplies. Money and clothing donations should be directed to the American Red Cross.
Parker says he's very proud of the students for how quickly and efficiently they’ve worked to help out fellow students they’ve never even met.
“It gives me goose bumps thinking about it. … These kids are great,” Parker said.
Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at email@example.com.