Re-1 kids raise bucks for hurricane victims | AspenTimes.com

Re-1 kids raise bucks for hurricane victims

Bobby MagillGlenwood Springs correspondent

Raising money and buying supplies for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Mississippi and Louisiana is more than throwing pennies in a jar, Carbondale Middle School Principal Cliff Colia said.”It’s just a real, tactile, visceral, concrete connection with the disaster for our kids,” said Colia, a Louisiana native. Since the hurricanes slammed into the Gulf Coast at the end of the summer, Roaring Fork School District Re-1 students throughout the valley have raised more than $10,000 and sent mounds of donated supplies to hurricane victims all along the coast, said Re-1 spokeswoman Suzie Romig. Many of those students took the relief effort personally. They took the money they raised, and “we hauled a bunch of them down to Wal-Mart and they actually bought the goods the school requested,” Colia said, referring to a school in Pearlington, Miss., which bore the brunt of Katrina’s wrath.Students sent money and supplies to Pearlington with members of the Carbondale Fire Department. Teachers there sent letters in return, thanking the Carbondale students for their support. The letters provided closure for the fund-raising effort, he said. The connections students made with the kids in Mississippi are valuable because kids here are fairly sheltered, especially from major natural disasters such as hurricanes. The next step, he said, is for students to write letters to each other, maintaining their connections. At Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs, Cliff Colia’s wife, Nancy, said students participating in that school’s To My Friend project sent 159 bags of supplies, all of which included personal notes, letters and drawings from students. “It gave the teachers a chance to talk about what happened and how you can make somebody feel better,” said Nancy Colia, the school’s financial secretary. The bags, she said, were given to the Manners of the Heart charity in Baton Rouge and were distributed through the public school system there.As of Tuesday, the school will have sent five boxes full of toys to the Volunteer Center of Southwest Louisiana, where Nancy Colia said many of the Hurricane Rita victims haven’t gained nearly as much attention as those of Hurricane Katrina. For Sopris students, “anytime you can bring to their attention to try and feel the needs of others, that’s important,” she said. “Judging from the bags I saw decorated, they certainly put their hearts into it.”Students pouring their hearts into empathizing with hurricane victims also involved a little bit of competition at Carbondale Middle. Secretary Rita Overbeck headed up “Copper and Silver Wars,” a competition held in early September in which students were asked to donate their pennies. Homerooms would score points for the highest number of pennies donated, but they’d lose points if another homeroom dropped in a nickel, dime or quarter. Whichever homeroom scored the most points received a pizza party. The competition raised more than $1,200, Overbeck said. Other schools got into the act just as fiercely, according to an e-mail from Romig. At Glenwood Springs Elementary, students collected $566 in coin jars. Glenwood Middle School students collected stuffed animals and raised $980 for hurricane relief. The Crystal River Elementary campuses raised $631 sent to the Red Cross and collected boxes of supplies and books for hurricane victims. Carbondale Community School raised $847 for the Red Cross, while Basalt Elementary students raised $1,600 in classroom coin jars. Basalt Middle School students raised $2,500, which went to Hands on America and the Red Cross. Teachers and students at Basalt High School raised $1,300 from selling relief bracelets, holding bake sales and washing cars.

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