Edneyville Elementary is one really big family, and they look out for their own. That’s why staff jumped into action when they first learned that kindergarten teacher Kayla Castro had a brother and pregnant sister-in-law in Newport. And that teacher assistant Sharon Searcy’s husband has been traveling to Burgaw, N.C., to assist with first phase clean out of homes.
“They lost over 90 percent of their personal possessions, and their home was completely flooded,” said Castro, who went out to Newport just last week to help move salvaged and donated items to storage units. “(Their home) is now in the gutting and rebuilding process.”
The Edneyville family has another connection to Hurricane Florence, in the form of a disaster relief responder. Sharon Searcy, computer lab teacher assistant, said her husband has already made a couple trips out to Burgaw, N.C. to assist a friend and teacher in Pender County Schools. A carpentry teacher at West Henderson High, Mark Searcy is also the one driving Edneyville’s collected supplies out to donation distribution sites in Bergaw and Newport.
When the drive began, staff donated gift cards for groceries and supplies, but media specialist Mary Webber realized Edneyville students – who are practicing The Leader In Me leadership habits – would be highly motivated to help Castro’s family and others devastated by Hurricane Florence.
So she began organizing the “Hurricane Relief Supply & Coin Drive,” and challenged each classroom to fill a mason jar with coins for the drive.
“They have no idea we’re on mason jar number four in here,” said 1st grade teacher Genee Dalton. Each day, Dalton writes something different on the whiteboard for her students’ morning work, and on Tuesday she added, “check the car for change.”
Dalton said some students turned in their paperwork with the reminder scrawled at the top – and it seemed to work. Several students brought in heavy plastic baggies of change Wednesday, and were then challenged to go home and check between the couch cushions for coins.
In addition to requesting change, Webber also distributed a list of most-needed items including dust masks, peroxide, white vinegar, and laundry detergent – which has made its rounds on Edneyville’s social media accounts.
“A lot of the things that we asked for are for cleaning and killing mold, because the mold is a huge problem down there right now,” Castro said.
Students and staff are also collecting nonperishable food, personal hygiene items, water, and first aid supplies – and lugged several armloads in first thing Wednesday morning. Before class, students loaded up donations on a cart and rolled it into the school’s workroom, where Deanna McCraw was organizing items into different boxes.
An Edneyville parent and PTO co-chair, McCraw said there’s been a PTO member sorting through the donations each day this week. And every day, Webber rolls more collected quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies.
The students, staff, and families of Edneyville are pulling together for those in N.C. dealing with flooding, mold, and heartache instead of homework, clubs, and PTO meetings.
Webber said, “I think it gives them a sense of community.”
Written by Molly McGowan Gorsuch, HCPS Public Information Officer.