Schools collecting for Operation Hurricane Harvey Relief

Students in Steelville have once more stepped up to help make a difference for those in need – this time for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in South Texas. Organizers are calling it “Operation Hurricane Harvey Relief – Small Towns Helping Small Towns,” and hope to fill a semi-truck trailer with items to help those who have suffered devastation from the recent storm.

In a letter to a local radio station asking for publicity for their drive, Steelville Middle School student Kourtney Schilling wrote, “My class in Steelville Middle School, called Current Events, has come up with this great idea to help Texas. We have decided that we can't just sit here and watch Hurricane Harvey, and not do something. Steelville, Mo. is known for our leadership. We like to take a stand and help out as much as we can! We are going to try to help a smaller town, because Steelville is so small, and so are the other towns around us. Small towns helping out a small town is just amazing! If we were to help Houston, it would just be like a drop in the bucket, and they are getting lots of help now. The little towns get forgotten about. That's why we are going for a much smaller town... This will bring our small community together, as well as our whole area, to make a big difference!”

Current Events Teacher Jennifer Whitson noted there are now three school districts working together to send help to Texas – Cuba Middle School Counselor Julie Perkins is organizing efforts there, and High School Social Studies Teacher Ian Whitson (Jennifer’s son), has galvanized his school in Marble Hill to gather items, too. “Three small towns are trying to help small towns in Texas, hit hard by Hurricane Harvey,” Jennifer Whitson said.

In Steelville, all three schools are collecting items to send to Texas through the end of this week (September 8), but Jennifer Whitson noted that things brought in on Monday, September 11 will also make the trip. Steelville students will take a day to sort and organize the collected items to make it easier for the distribution center in Texas.

She also noted that, thanks to a Facebook plea for help, iTransport and Logistics has donated a semi-truck to transport the items collected to Portland, Texas (just outside of Corpus Christi), where there is a church serving as a distribution center to the small towns around them. A Steelville alumnus, Skip Hajek, is a member of that church, who is working as a volunteer and has been the contact for local organizers, providing updates on the most pressing needs.

Several of the local educators will accompany the items to their destination, to help unload and to make the human connection. “Kids need to see where their efforts will be welcomed,” Jennifer Whitson said.  “I will take my camera and will take lots of photos.”

She also reported that many local people have already donated to the cause, and several churches have been generous in donating pallets of water, in addition to other items.

Anyone who’d still like to donate can drop items at the collection points at the Steelville, Cuba, and Woodland Schools. Jennifer Whitson also noted that anyone who’d like to send cards or messages of hope is welcome to drop them off as well.

“Thank you to all who are showing compassion to others, to those who are teaching their kids to reach out to those in need,” the Steelville teacher said. “Thank you to those who have taken your kids shopping, or allowed them to choose what to send. The impact that has had on their lives and our future cannot be measured today.”