By George Slaughter
People from around the country have followed the Texas Gulf Coast’s hurricane recovery efforts. For Sally Barnes, a Spanish teacher at Mayde Creek High School, the calls came from her hometown of Whitewater, Wisconsin. How could people help?
So Barnes created an Amazon wish list, which she described as “essentially like a registry,” and listed such basic items she would keep for her students in her classroom—school supplies, toiletries, and so on. But as things developed, the list became a school wish list, and more items were added, such as cleaning supplies, clothing, and home essentials.
Barnes estimates that over $300,000 worth of items have been purchased for the school through the Amazon wish list. The number of items on the wish list has gone down, and the list will evolve as student needs go from survival to rebuilding, she said.
“We’ve narrowed it down,” Barnes said. “People are still donating.”
District officials have taken note. Barnes told the story of how the KISD superintendent, Dr. Lance Hindt, paid a recent visit to the high school, and she said he told them that generosity can be overwhelming.
Barnes said it was awesome how this effort became more than taking care of just her students or just her class. She said that one of her colleagues, English teacher Wendy Pierce, provided guidance in setting up the Amazon wish list and made the first purchase from it. Initially, the boxes were coming to Barnes’s townhouse. It took some work with the post office to straighten things out.
Eleventh grade assistant principal Jonathon Gutierrez has worked closely with Barnes to open the boxes and get things inventoried in one of the gymnasiums.
Saturday’s donations from Timber Creek were placed there.
“It’s been humbling, emotional and overwhelming,” Barnes said, adding that the way in which the whole Amazon effort came about has become a way for other schools to get help, which she described as “really cool.”
For more information about the Mayde Creek wish list on Amazon, visit the Hurricane Harvey Mayde Creek HS page.
Helping the recovery efforts through the Amazon wish list is just one way that people have become involved. But for Cathy Reeves, it might be described as a more personal gesture.
Reeves coached volleyball and taught at Mayde Creek from 1994-2002. Today, she teaches English at Timber Creek High School, which is in Fort Worth. When she saw the devastation brought about by Hurricane Harvey last month, she decided to do something about it.
She visited with her fellow faculty members, and they encouraged their students to contribute to what became known as Schools Outfitting Schools, or “One Creek to Creek.”
As word got out, businesses and others in the community got involved in the effort. Donations were collected over a three-week period.
On Saturday afternoon, three Keller Independent School District buses, led by Reeves, Timber Creek High School principal Donnie Bartlett, and other officials and students, brought about 900 backpacks of school supplies to Mayde Creek for local distribution.
“We decided that instead of trying to help schools in general, we would help just one,” Reeves said. She saw a Facebook post from Mayde Creek High School principal Ronnie Edwards that had been forwarded through some of her former volleyball players.
“I thought, oh my gosh, that’s my school,” Reeves said, adding that she remembered from her time at Mayde Creek that the area was prone to floods.
“I sent him a message saying, hey, we want to do this,” Reeves said. “It’s not food, it’s not clothing, it’s school supplies, would you be interested? He said, absolutely.”
She said there were interesting parallels between the schools. The principals are “Donnie and Ronnie,” both of whom are in their second year at their respective schools, both of which have “Creek” in the school name.
Edwards, associate principal Andrew Lowry, and ninth-grade assistant principal Mary-Margaret Crandall led the welcoming committee. They were joined by several Mayde Creek students, including some Rams cheerleaders and volleyball players.
This is not the first time that Reeves has led such an effort. A couple of years ago, she said, she had a son serving in the U.S. Army who would be stationed in Jordan for Christmas. She and her students started creating a care package, and soon other teachers and coaches got involved, with over 75 such boxes being sent to Jordan.
The same thing happened again time, with the Mayde Creek Rams community being the beneficiary.
“The whole community got involved,” she said. “It’s overwhelming. I’m so excited to come back here.”