TES collecting school supplies for school hit by hurricane

Published 3:00 am Thursday, November 1, 2018

Amy Allen, principal of Golson Elementary School in Marianna, Florida, finally got back to a full school day Monday as the community recovers form the impact of Hurricane Michael.

“A lot of our children and even our staff members lost their homes,” Allen said. “We still have students and staff members that are homeless – some are doubled up in houses, some are living in RVs, a few are still living at shelters.”

Shortly after the hurricane devastated their area, Allen got a call from an old high school classmate, Troy Elementary School Principal Teresa Sims.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I reached out to her to see how everybody was,” Sims said. “their school had substantial damage. It made me think about what bit of normalcy we can help with as a school?”

Sims posed the question to her student government association and they collectively decided that they should send school supplies down to students who likely lost most of their own supplies during the storm.

“It’s sort of a kid-to-kid thing,” Sims said. “Amy said Monday was kind of like the first day of school all over again. Many of the kids lost all of their school supplies.”

Allen described how difficult the situation has been for the school body to go through.

“The damage has been catastrophic here,” Allen said. “The amount of trees that went down caused a lot of destruction; few homes don’t have some type of damage. A lot of families lost one or both cars.

“I just got power back on the 16th day after the storm in my neighborhood. I still have faculty, staff and students coming to work and school that don’t have power at home. The power grids themselves were completely destroyed, it’s not just power lines and poles that have to be replaced. We missed 11 instructional days.”

Allen said the ability for the staff and kids to come to school helps bring back a sense of stability to their lives.

“One of the things that I was extremely surprised by I think is the way we all came together,” Allen said. “There was a lot of apprehension when the staff came together Friday. There were concerns about starting back before power was completely restored, and a lot of roads are still down to one lane because of the debris. But when everyone got together and they all got to see each other, that was part of the healing process. A teacher is sometimes most consistent thing the students have. It’s good for them to be able to talk to the teacher and feel some routine and be part of a normal day again.”

Allen said it also ensures students are getting some basic necessities that might be hard to find right now.

“I’ve served a lot of soup lines the last few weeks and a lot of our students and their families were in those lines,” Allen said. “We have been able to feed families in our cafeteria. Getting fed, that makes you feel better. There’s security to be back in a routine, in a place that has electricity.”

Sims said the school will be collecting supplies through Friday morning so that they can be taken down to Golson Elementary Friday afternoon.

“We want this to be one less thing parents have to worry about,” Sims said. “That is the big thing. So they can have a normal school day when a lot of them are not going home to normal.”

Allen said it’s a blessing to have so many people and schools like Troy Elementary helping them recover.

“You cannot even imagine,” Allen said. “We have children that have been through things that are indescribable. It’s been a big blessing; people have been reaching out from all over the place that just care about our children.”

Items can be dropped off in the car line or at the front office. Items being collected include:

  • 2 pencils
  • Wide rule notebooks
  • Wide rule paper
  • 24-count Crayons
  • Washable markers
  • Pink erasers
  • Plastic folders
  • Pencil boxes
  • Glue Sticks
  • Blunt tip scissors
  • Copy Paper
  • Facial tissues

Hand sanitizer