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Kids comfort kids

Students write, give to young storm victims

Students write, give to young storm victims

September 28, 2005|By KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY

karenh@herald-mail.com

Bags of letters and piles of dollar bills at the bottom of a jug are part of a wave of goodwill from students across Washington County to hurricane victims in far-off places.

"I hope you are OK and that your life will get back to normal ... I hope you are safe where you are. Do not cry," 8-year-old Bobby Richards wrote in a letter as part of a Winter Street Elementary School project to help students in the Gulf Coast.

Donation campaigns across the Washington County Public Schools system have raised thousands of dollars, public information officer Carol Mowen said.

"Originally, I had floated the number of $25,000 as a pie-in-the-sky goal of what we as a school system might accomplish," Mowen said.

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Though Mowen said totals still were being figured, she estimated Monday the school system ultimately might reach or exceed her target.

Boonsboro Elementary School has raised more than $11,000 for relief efforts, Mowen said Monday. Hancock Middle-Senior High School likely will adopt Purvis High School in Lamar County, Miss., which was "crippled" by Hurricane Katrina, Mowen said.

At Winter Street, students have collected money for 102 personal hygiene packages to send to people affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Principal Kathy Kelsey said.

Dollar bills and change fill the bottom of a jug at the school's entrance. A note on the container asks students to "help our friends who have suffered a natural disaster in the south."

Third-grade teacher Rachel Grantham said many students are unable to contribute much financially and seldom have traveled far from home.

With little conception of geography, students worried Hurricane Katrina could hurt them, Grantham said.

"The kids wanted to do something. They just don't have the funds to do anything monetarily," Grantham said.

Grantham said she suggested to students that they write letters expressing their concern to the children affected by the hurricanes. Students quickly added their thoughts to the idea, Grantham said.

They wanted the children they wrote to be able to respond to their letters, and one student pointed out the recipients would need pencils, Grantham said.

"They all fought over who was going to sharpen the pencils," Grantham said.

Students filled Ziploc bags with pencils, self-addressed stamped envelopes and letters to Gulf Coast children.

The letters will be sent via The Salvation Army, Mowen said.

Most collection efforts end at the end of this month, Mowen said.

Bobby and Dominick Saccone, 8, were not sure how they would react if they were in circumstances similar to those facing thousands of children from the Gulf Coast.

Dominick said the storms hit "down near Florida somewhere," but he wasn't sure where.

"We have seen many sad pictures in the news and at school of what happened during the hurricane," Dominick wrote in his letter.

According to Grantham, even students who have little understood the losses suffered by children in the Gulf Coast. They have come to school with handfuls of pennies to help, she said.

"You know, to us, it's like, 'Ooh, pennies,' but (if) they have it, they bring it in. They're sweethearts. They're needy, but they're sweethearts," she said.

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