By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — After Hurricane Harvey pounded Texas last month, Katherine Degner saw a call for help on Facebook from schools in Houston that needed school supplies as most had been lost in the aftermath.
Degner, a math professor at St. Ambrose University, said she is a member of Wear Red for Ed Facebook page for educators across the United States. After a story was posted about the damage and public school closures in Houston, she made contact to find out the needs.
White Oak Middle School in Houston had an Unpack Your Backpack night right before the hurricane struck. Degner said a majority of the school’s students receive free or reduced lunches. Families could barely afford school supplies prior to the hurricane and with the loss of school supplies, they would need new items. Although the school had flooded, it was able to open Sept. 6.
Degner volunteered her Math 210 classes to collect supplies. All that White Oak wanted to start the year were folders, spiral notebooks, pens and pencils. No crayons, markers or anything else. Just the basics.
Prior to the Labor Day weekend break, Degner asked her students to purchase the items. “I hoped to get maybe 20 folders and fill one box with supplies,” she said. To her surprise, students brought in items through Sept. 13 that filled five boxes.
Rachel Thomas, a freshman and graduate of Assumption High School in Davenport, said she was pleasantly surprised by the variety of items donated and the creativity. She was referring to fun and colorful folders and notebooks. “It’s high quality.”
Thomas said the majority of the donations arrived the first week. She was glad that Degner volunteered her two Math 210 classes to adopt the school. “We are future teachers and we are helping out others who lost almost everything. This is a way we can help.”
Freshman Kayla Robbins of Liberty, Ill., said the response from the Ambrose students was “awesome.” She said many students didn’t know how they could help with hurricane relief until Degner told them of the project that could make a difference in the students’ lives.
On Sept. 13 the students boxed up the supplies, sorting them by types of items. Degner planned to mail the boxes the next day, paying for the shipping herself. “I didn’t expect this much,” she laughed.