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Former teacher, principal encourages Park Lane students to donate items to hurricane victims

Oct 04, 2017 01:01PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Park Lane students and retired teacher Cynthia Buchanan team up to donate needed supplies, including dog-care items, to Hurricane Harvey victims. (Justin Jeffrey/Park Lane)

Park Lane Elementary’s principal and his family know what it’s like to survive a hurricane. 

In 2008, Justin Jeffrey found his family living in their Houston home with boarded-up windows, without power and standing in lines for hours as there was a shortage of food as well as supplies for his then three-week-old baby.

Hurricane Ike was then the second costliest Atlantic hurricane that reached category 4 before ultimately weakening prior to hitting the Texas coast, yet it still caused considerable damage.

“Hurricane Ike was the last big hurricane that hit the area and my heart goes out to those in Houston, where I came from,” Jeffrey said after Hurricane Harvey swept through the area. “I still have friends there. One of them was rescued by boat and taken to a shelter where another friend reached out to him and helped. Not everyone has what they need so we’re collecting items for those who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.”

Hurricane Harvey, which hit the eastern Texas coast in late August, gave some areas more than 40 inches of rain, flooding streets, businesses, schools and homes. At one count, more than 30,000 people were displaced.

Jeffrey said students were asked to donate items — diapers, wipes, air mattresses, toiletries, blankets, pillows, Gatorade, toilet paper, paper towels, pull-ups, backpacks of school supplies and more items — that will be needed by survivors. One boy even brought in a storage tub full of items for taking care of dogs.

Students were invited to bring items in by retired teacher Cynthia Buchanan, who learned Godfrey Trucking would donate a truck to take the much needed items.

“When I learned that a truck would be going there and would take supplies, I knew the generosity of the school community would want to help,” she said. “I went to the school and got the immediate support of the principal who just moved from that area a couple years ago.”

Within days, students had twice filled huge watermelon bins that Costco donated to collect the items, Buchanan said.

“I went and helped unload the watermelon bins one day and the next morning, they already were overflowing. The school had sent home a message that went to parents’ phones on the first day, which was Friday before Labor Day. On Tuesday, a note went home. Principal Jeffrey announced in the morning after the Pledge of Allegiance: ‘Remember our friends in Texas.’ We’ve been able to collect so many items. Our community has big hearts,” she said.

She said that parents talked to the kids about the stress the families have with the hurricane damaging their homes and schools.

“The kids can turn on the TV and see what it’s like so they’ve been donating stuff that you don’t want to be without,” she said.

Jeffrey said Sept. 6 that with Hurricane Irma right on the heels, the school community may continue to collect items that will be in need.  

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