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Putting a face to a natural disaster

Sauk Valley groups raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief

Many local schools, organizations and businesses are doing their part to help Hurricane Harvey victims. Collectively, they have raised more than $68,000.

Students at Eastland Elementary School in Shannon have raised $2,458 to donate to the Houston Food Bank Backpack Buddy program, which fills backpacks with nutritious food for school children to take home over the weekend. The students have raised enough money for 1,200 backpacks.

St. Mary’s School in Sterling raised $965 for Hurricane Harvey relief for an out-of-uniform day Sept. 8.

Culver’s of Dixon and Rock Falls also partnered with the Greater Houston United Way Hurricane Relief organization and raised more than $1,100. On Sept. 12, both Culver’s locations donated 10 percent of their sales to relief efforts. Donations enable the United Way to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters. Culver’s restaurants nationwide are still raising money for hurricane relief.

Halo Branded Solutions in Sterling donated $62,620 to J.J. Watt’s historic crowdsourcing campaign for Hurricane Relief. Watt is a defensive star for the NFL’s Houston Texans. There were 267 employees from Halo and its Michael C. Fina Recognition division that contributed $31,310. Halo matched that amount.

Several local drives were also held for hurricane victims. Students at East Coloma-Nelson School had a drive Sept. 5 for nonperishable food items that were donated. Abiding Word Church in Sterling also held a drive for nonperishable food and personal hygiene items, and cleaning supplies, which were trucked to Texas last week. Newman Central Catholic High School students donated 1,050 items for Houston victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Washington Elementary School in Sterling is collecting gift cards to Walmart, Target, Kohl’s and Amazon to send to Kirk Elementary School in Houston, Texas. Kirk school students and staff are unable to access their campus because of high waters in surrounding areas.

Principal Lindsey Stumpenhorst said she is connected with different educators through Twitter with a group called #momsasprincipals.

“Through Voxer, a walkie talkie app, we have frequent conversations that have been recorded in the #momsasprincipals group, which is over 100 people,” she said.

With the app, Stumpenhorst was able to connect with Onica Mayers, principal of Kirk school.

From talking with Mayers, Stumpenhorst learned about how the community and school were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“The other three Sterling elementary school principals and myself felt the need to help,” she said.

“Mayers said that often times a natural disaster is like a funeral. In that moment, everyone wants to help,” Stumpenhorst said. “However, as the weeks go on, you are left to deal with the situation on your own. We wanted to do something longer lasting.”

All collected funds are being used to purchase gift cards for the school. She said they decided against collecting goods so those who receive the gift cards have the comfort of purchasing what they want.

Fliers were sent home to Washington school families with information and pictures about Kirk school.

“It’s incredible how much people are willing to help. Putting a face to a natural disaster makes it real,” Stumpenhorst said.

“So far, Lincoln has collected over $500 and Washington has collected the same, if not more,” she said. Franklin and Jefferson Schools have already ended their fundraisers. Jefferson raised $425, and Franklin is still counting the total raised.

Washington also conducted a hat day for Kirk school, raising $370 to add to the gift card donations.

Washington will be accepting donations through September. Those wishing to contribute can contact the school or drop off donations.

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