Archive for Thursday, September 15, 2005

Students respond to storm’s needs

September 15, 2005

When De Soto students learned about the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, they asked their teachers for a way to help.

"This is pretty incredible, the first day after Katrina I had literally four students come to me and ask if there was some way to help," Starside Elementary School counselor Paula Henderson said. "I was so proud of them for taking the initiative to realize 'yes,' we did need to do something."

At Starside, students raised $700 to donate to the American Red Cross. Henderson said students decided to have a bake sale at the school.

The students and parents baked goodies for purchase during Starside's lunch break Friday and Monday. Henderson said she was impressed by the amount of money raised because each baked item cost about 25 cents, so there had to be thousands of baked goods for sale.

"We had so many we carried it over another day," she said.

Starside Elementary's cash donations were sent to Heart to Heart International of Olathe, a worldwide relief organization that sends volunteers to help during disasters.

Henderson said students at Starside Elementary learn about respect and caring for others as part of De Soto's character development program.

"We're huge into character traits and respecting other people," she said. "Basically if you respect others, you also care for them. This is where that idea of helping others came from."

Other De Soto schools have contributed to the Hurricane Katrina survivors. Sprint/Nextel donated 100 boxes to Mize Elementary so students and parents can leave toys and books to send to FEMA centers in affected areas. Lexington Trails Middle School is also taking items for Heart to Heart in Olathe until Friday, and students are "skipping a Coke" and donating their pop money to survivors.

Susan Slater, Physical Education teacher at Lexington Trails, said the students are giving money to have one teacher get a pie-in-the-face. Slater said middle school students also sold baked goods at games and De Soto days. So far, the middle school has raised about $1,400 from the bake sale and pie contest.

At De Soto High School, students bought nearly 300 cases of water bottles to send through West Side Community Church in Shawnee. Principal Dave Morford said students had a competition in each of their seminar classes to encourage them to donate. The winner, he said, would get a pizza party.

"We had five seminars that brought 20 or more cases," he said. "The winning seminar, Mr. Steve Deghand's (freshman) class, brought 24 cases."

Morford said he was impressed with the donations, because each class only has about 15 students.

Gretchen Russell, administrative assistant at the church, said De Soto's water bottles would go to sister Baptist churches and other organizations in need in Mississippi and Louisiana. The church has already sent loads of water bottles, one to a police department in the Acadia parish in Louisiana.

"It's something easy to do, and it's needed down there," she said.

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