American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware

Texas Disaster Relief

 

 

Tim Schwartz shares this message and appeal for ABCOPAD to respond to the needs in greater Houston, Texas ---- 

As we walk alongside those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the greater Houston area, please partner with us as we assist the James H. Ross Elementary School community of League City, TX.  The school is located around 20 miles from downtown Houston in an area that received between 50 and 60 inches of rain during Harvey.  It is a school with an excellent faculty that teaches its students be be good people and excel in scholarship and academics.  They have a character code that teaches trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.  It is located in one of the communities that had never experienced such flooding.  

The school has 600 students from Pre-K to 5th grade.  300 of those student’s homes were directly affected by the hurricane.  Many of the staff member’s homes were flooded as well.  We are working with Principal Kelly Mooney to assist in recovery of their students and faculty.  We spoke with Principal Mooney in late September and she reported that many families were still in crisis mode after the storm.  They were still trying to figure out recovery day by day while trying to normalize things for their child’s education.  

In recent months the school community worked hard to return things to normal for the students.  They recognized the difficulties their students faced.  Here are some stories we learned from the Ross community:
  • We learned that Fridays were hard days for the school - for the students knew that once they left school, they would have the entire weekend at “home - not their house, but wherever they were staying after the storm.
  • There were some students that were displaced by the storm that had to move in with a relative that lived more than 30 minutes from the school.  These students didn’t miss a day of school because of this hardship.  However, it was an extra burden on their family to drive their children to and from school every day. We learned that an early need at the school was for gas cards - so that these families would get some assistance in getting their students to school.
  • The staff at the school figured out a way their students could have a normal Halloween.  They had two concerns about Halloween.  First, it was not safe to trick or treat on the streets of their community.  Many of the homes that were flooded had mudded-out their homes.  Everything that got wet in the storm and moldy after the storm went out to the curb.  The kids would have to walk around those moldy piles to trick or treat.  In addition, it was hard to fathom people being home and having candy to give away when the majority of their funds were going toward recovery. The staff hosted a Fall Festival at their school where the children could come dressed in their Halloween costumes and trick or treat through the hallways of the school. The students were able to have a regular Halloween in a safe environment.  (ABCOPAD partnered with the school financially for their Fall Festival).
  • We learned that many of their families in the community did not have insurance on their homes before the storm.  Those families are trying their best to make it by.  In early November, the staff told us they have around 40 families still in crisis mode from the Hurricane.  For those families with insurance it is still difficult.  Families are required to pay for cost first and then be reimbursed by the insurance company. Families with few resources must take a loan from a bank to pay for recovery and then wait for the insurance company to reimburse them.
  • Near the beginning of November, the school community still had around 40 families that were still in crisis after Hurricane Harvey. In addition, 13 faculty members were still struggling after the immense flooding.  
Here are some ways that you and your congregation can partner with us in helping Ross Elementary school recover from Hurricane Harvey:
Send new toys and games to the Santa Store. The school would like to help families have a normal holiday in the midst of recovery. Early in December they will be hosting a Santa Store. They are collecting donations of new toys and games for children. They will sell these presents at the Santa Store at a small fraction of their actual price.  That way, families can enjoy Christmas and the holidays together while still diverting most of their resources to recovery. If you are interested in helping the Santa Store... Shop online and send the toys to the school address below.
Send new books. The school is continuing to collect new books for their students. The staff encourages their parents to read to their students each night. For some families, it has been difficult after the storm because they lost all of their books in the storm. The staff desires to assist the families in the significant effort of reading with their children. Send new books to the school address below. 
Send encouraging letters to the students of the school. The staff and students at the school could use your encouragement! The last months for all people at the school have been difficult. Consider the staff: in addition to losing their homes and coming to terms with their loss, they are spending their entire days trying to teach students who have lost everything and are trying to come to terms with loss as well. It has been a difficult time for Ross Elementary! Send encouraging letters to the students of the school (pick a grade to send them to - there are about 100 kids per grade!). Send cards and letters to the school address below.
If your students create cards, please consider taking some pictures of the kids making the cards and send those pictures to us so we can post them on our Facebook page. You can also use your smart phone (iPhone or Android) to record a video from your Sunday school class to encourage the students.  Even though they don’t know us, the students would be blessed to know that there are people in PA and DE that are thinking of them during this season. You can upload videos to the ABCOPAD Serves Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/ABCOPADServes/ or email the video to msmsmail@abcoapd.com  We will post the videos on Facebook making it easy for Principal Mooney to download the videos and share the with her students.
Collect gift cards to send to Ross Elementary.  Gift cards to Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, and Target work great for families moving forward in recovery.  Gift cards to Starbucks and Sonic work great for teachers who are balancing the rigors of teaching with recovery.  Principal Mooney shared with us that they are distributing all gift cards to those that are in the greatest need. Send gift cards to the school address below. 

James H Ross Elementary School
League, City, TX   77573

c/o Kelly Mooney
2401 West Main Street