Emerson helps with hurricane relief


Seeing the images of flooding in Texas was heartbreaking for a group of third-graders nearly 1,000 miles away.

The photo that made the most impact on Sherry Dart’s class at Emerson Elementary School in Seymour showed senior citizens sitting in a nursing home that was underwater.

At that point, they decided they wanted to do something to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

On Monday morning, Dart said one of her students asked if she had heard about the hurricane, so they all started talking about it.

“The next thing you know, it was like, ‘You know what? This is a great time to write a letter and persuade, so let’s make this real,'” Dart said of the students learning about persuasive writing.

They then came together to write a letter to Principal Julie Kelly, and a couple of students presented it to her.

It read, “Have you seen the damage the hurricane has done to Texas? We would like to know if the whole school could collect change to send to the American Red Cross. The money would help the hurting people in Texas.” At the bottom, the students signed their names.

Dart said the last line of the letter warmed her heart.

When she first saw the letter, Kelly said she got goosebumps.

“It is just so reflective of a child’s heart. Kids just want to reach out and help wherever they can,” she said.

“Sometimes, they have ideas that they want to do that are just almost too pie in the sky,” she said. “But this one was so realistic, collecting change, giving to the American Red Cross, which is a great organization to give the money to so you know it’s going to the right place.”

Kelly then presented the letter to the school’s parent-teacher organization, which immediately jumped on board.

Monday through Friday, Dart’s students collected coins and bills from people at the school and from family and friends. The community also could bring donations to the school.

After all of the money is tallied, the PTO will write out a check to the American Red Cross, which will use the money to help people impacted by the hurricane.

“We wanted to do a quick turnaround so we can get a check in the mail as quick as possible,” Dart said.

The public was made aware of the hurricane relief drive after Kelly posted a picture of the class’ letter on the school’s Facebook page.

That post received a lot of views, likes, shares and comments.

“Some of the things I put out there, I get 100 people look at it. This one was 12,000, and I’m like, ‘My goodness!'” Kelly said of the number of views it had received.

That gave the students hope that people would donate to their efforts.

“If everybody gave $1, then it would be like $12,000,” third-grader Ayden Stark said.

Classmate Zoie Benton went the extra mile by emptying out both of her piggy banks at home and putting the money in the class’ collection canister. She said she had been saving the money for a couple of years.

When Dart asked Zoie why she did that, Zoie said, “Because I wouldn’t want people in Houston hurting.”

“Doesn’t that make your heart warm?” Dart said.

“That’s 100 percent of what she had,” Kelly said. “How many people give 100 percent of what they have to anything anymore? She gave it all. That is generosity at its roots. I was glad to see that.”

Dart’s students agreed it didn’t matter how much money they raised. They just knew every little bit helps and could go a long way.

“I just want to help people because I watched on TV that a lot of roads have been flooding, so a street looked like an ocean,” third-grader Charlie Rockey said. “They are losing their homes and family members and their pets.”

Third-grader Brodey Sawyer said it was sad seeing the people in the nursing home surrounded by water, but he was glad to later see a photo of them in a new nursing home.

Classmate Gabe Seabolt said the money the school collects will help those impacted by the flooding get back on their feet. Jensen Malone said that could include food, water and other items they will need to survive.

Third-grader Addison Reece said she was happy to donate.

“I wanted to do this because it’s just the right thing to do, because helping people is the right thing,” she said.

The flooding in Texas is personal for Dart and one of her students.

“It’s really sad that that happened because some of my family members live there,” third-grader Jaylee Burkhart said. “If we’re kind to them, if there was ever a hurricane or flood here, they would help us.”

Dart said she has friends in Katy, Texas, which is 30 miles west of Houston. When she first contacted them, they said they were OK. On Sunday, though, she received a text message from them that said, “Pray now.”

“Their daughter lives in Houston, and the water came up so fast they couldn’t get out and Dad couldn’t get in, so they had to swim out to Dad so he could take them home,” Dart said. “I texted her and said, ‘How are things going? Are you OK?’ and haven’t heard from her, so everybody is wondering what’s going on.”

Kelly lauded the students’ efforts for setting up the fundraiser and thinking of others.

“I think people like to hear a little bit of good news,” she said. “There’s a lot of bad news and a lot of sadness out there, so to hear what our next generation of kids is going to be like, it’s encouraging.”

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If you weren’t able to donate to Emerson Elementary School’s Hurricane Harvey relief effort, monetary donations may be made online at redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey.

Also locally, Crothersville High School sold ice cream floats Friday to support those impacted by the hurricane. All money raised will go to the American Red Cross.

Later this month, Crothersville also plans to host a 5K to help hurricane victims. The date, time and location will be announced at a later date.

Medora’s Reach for a Star after-school program sold lemonade, hot chocolate and cookies Friday with all proceeds going to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Students also will be participating in a diaper drive by collecting diapers (both child and adult), wipes and baby formula. Other items will be accepted, too. People may bring donations to the Medora Community Schools building between 3 and 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The Boys & Girls Club of Seymour is collecting items for Hurricane Harvey victims. The club at 950 N. O’Brien St. is now a dropoff location for the following items: Clothes, shoes, blankets, nonperishable food items, bottled water, bedding, first aid items, etc. The items will be transported via semitrailer Sept. 9. The trailer will be set up in the Jackson Park Shopping Center parking lot Wednesday through Friday.


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