AMARILLO – The flood waters have receded in Louisiana, but the needs haven’t, and Texas Panhandle 4-H’ers are answering a call for school supplies.
Louisiana 4-H put out a call in August to all its southern counterparts, saying, “many school-aged youth were in the midst of planning for their school year when the flooding occurred,” and have since spent time cleaning their homes and rebuilding their lives.
Dr. Toby Lepley, assistant state director for Texas 4-H Youth Development in College Station, said Texas 4-H’ers have come together to help those affected.
Dr. Janet Fox, Louisiana State University department head, 4-H youth development, said she is humbled to know that Extension staff, 4-H’ers and 4-H volunteers from across the state of Texas have come together to help in their time of need.
“Let me extend my sincere thanks to our Texas colleagues, 4-H members and 4-H volunteers for your support during the flood,” Fox said. “The outpouring of support for our Louisiana 4-H youth is very much appreciated. As youth are having to deal with being displaced, split school schedules and availability of school supplies, Texas A&M AgriLife 4-H programs have heeded the call and have given unselfishly.”
Lepley said support for the Louisiana flood victims through the collection of school supplies has included 1,787 youth and adult workers contributing 1,483 volunteer hours to collect $4,379 in donations and care packages valued at more than $5,500. He said 375 large bundles have been collected for shipment so far. The project will end Oct. 31.
Some of that collection has already made its way to Louisiana. As a part of their One Day 4-H project this year, the counties of Hemphill, Gray, Armstrong, Moore, Donley and Ochiltree in the Texas Panhandle began gathering school supplies, getting donations from 4-H families and supporting stores.
Texas 4-H, which is administrated by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, celebrated One Day 4-H on Oct. 8.
Carolyn Prill-Bennett, AgriLife Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Moore County, said while the counties were glad to make the school supply drive a part of their One Day 4-H efforts, they were not expecting the $200 shipping cost it would have taken for each county to ship the supplies to Louisiana.
“Nobody had really factored that cost into the process,” she said.
That’s when Misti Ivins, a secretary in the AgriLife Extension office in Moore County who has family in Louisiana, volunteered to make the trip. She left Oct. 16 to make the almost 850-mile one-way trip to Baton Rouge to deliver the gathered items from the Texas Panhandle.
Ivins said she had intended to just load the supplies from all five counties in her vehicle, but it wouldn’t all fit, so she loaded it up in the 4-H program’s enclosed trailer.
“I was just going to put it in my pickup with shrink-wrapped boxes,” Ivins said. “When we got it all loaded, it was just piled too high; I couldn’t go like that. So I took the trailer.”
She said the 1,200 pounds of school supplies included binders, backpacks, notebook paper, pens, pencils, glue sticks, crayons, library books, flash cards, pencil boxes, folders, spirals, protractors, math workbooks – “everything you would see on your child’s school supply list.” There were also items for the teachers – tape, scissors, markers, paper clips, stickers and much more. And there was almost $500 in cash donations.
“I don’t know if anybody really realizes how big of an impact this little project makes,” Ivins said from Louisiana.
She said many people lost their jobs when the buildings went under water. Houses and vehicles were underwater, jobs were gone, there was no money to buy school supplies, and even Walmart was underwater, so really there weren’t any supplies to be bought.
“The schools down here, some are still gutted with mold in them. They’ve lost entire libraries of books…their desks…very little was salvageable. It happened right at the time kids were supposed to start school.
“They started several weeks late and in many cases they started back in make-shift school houses with no supplies for the teachers or students. I wish people could see the impact of what this community service project does. It helps get those kids back on track and going again.
“This just makes my soul happy,” she said.