When Katie Gaylord came across a grassroots effort called “Principals Helping Principals,” she knew she found a way to get a lot of people in York County to help a lot of people devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
“Principals Helping Principals,” started by a principal in Texas, partners schools impacted by the hurricane with schools that want to help them out — sort of an adoption program. Along with Waller Mill Elementary, where Gaylord works, five other York County schools have joined the program.
Throughout the week leading up to school and the first week back, the schools have collected school supplies, toiletries and gift cards to send directly to schools in Texas.
Heather Young, principal at Tabb Middle School, said the response was immediate. The day after she put up some fliers about the adoption program, people dropped off backpacks and school supplies. She guessed that many people were looking for ways they could help.
“I knew we had a generous community to help out,” Young said. “We know the devastation a hurricane can cause, and we know we can help.”
Young said she’s been happy with the amount of donations coming in, saying the students have been excited to get involved. She added that helping out these schools is a good experience for the students in York County.
Gaylord said it’s great for students to start the year with a service project and get engaged in helping people to see some of the world beyond their community. She said she hoped the connection with Waller Mill’s school in Houston, Sanchez Elementary, will continue throughout the year, with students chatting over video or keeping in touch with a pen pal.
The York schools involved in the adoption program have been showing their students pictures of their adopted schools in Texas to let the students know the severity of the situation. The schools adopted by Tabb Middle and Waller Mill both were flooded, and the homes of many students, teachers and staff were flooded as well.
C.E. King Middle School, which Tabb connected with because of their similar size, has been featured in several news reports, including on “Good Morning America." Young said pictures show the auditorium flooded and the basketball court warped out of shape. C.E. King Middle and Sanchez Elementary have students that are mostly economically disadvantaged.
Gaylord learned of the school adoptions on social media in a Facebook group for school counselors. She said the response to the idea was so overwhelming that most of the impacted schools were able to have two schools adopt them. Tabb and Waller Mill are partnering with schools in Georgia to get items to the schools in Texas.
All the York schools participating are collecting things like school supplies, backpacks, nonperishable food, pet food, toiletries and gift cards. But there are some differences in items schools need.
Young asked that people not bring clothing to Tabb Middle, except for new, packaged items like socks or underwear.
Gaylord said the principal of Sanchez Elementary said students are in need of new or gently used clothing that fits the school uniform — royal blue, white and gold polo shirts and navy blue, black or khaki pants.
Schools are accepting donations through Thursday, and people can drop off items during regular school hours at the front office. The division is still figuring out how it will transport the items to Texas, but the items will go directly to the schools.
York schools accepting donations for Hurricane Harvey relief are:
- Grafton High School, 403 Grafton Drive
- Grafton Middle School, 405 Grafton Drive
- Queens Lake Middle School, 124 West Queens Drive
- Tabb Middle School, 300 Yorktown Road
- Waller Mill Elementary School
- Yorktown Middle School, 11201 George Washington Memorial Hwy
Reyes can be reached by phone at 757-247-4692. Follow him on Twitter @jdauzreyes.