September 30, 2005

Sweetwater District Schools Reach Out to Katrina Victims

From bracelets to backpacks, district students find creative ways to connect with those affected by the devastating hurricane

Students of all ages and abilities in the Sweetwater District are doing their part to raise funds and needed items for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated parts of the Gulf Coast. They inspired staff members, their peers and their parents alike to reach into their pockets and meet a need.

More than $6,600 was raised at six schools alone over the past two weeks, and other schools are just ramping up their fundraising drive. Some sites decided to go a different route for collections, so that their students could get involved in unique ways.

School Needs Packed Up: Hilltop High Connect Crew seniors Lyndsay McElyea, Nicole Eastman, Crystal Morales, Carlon Carley, Jennifer Prieto and Erick Vivanco prepare boxes of filled backpacks to give to Katrina evacuees who have found their way to San Diego.

Special Education teacher Robyn Collins at Rancho del Rey Middle and her severely handicapped students got a “hands-on” experience at production, inventory and sales to raise $426 for Katrina victims. Collins purchased thousands of colorful beads, and her students and fellow staff members strung them to make bracelets to sell for just a dollar each—with the entire purchase price going to a good cause. And even though her students are on break for the next three weeks, they stocked up to sell to off-campus students who visited Rancho del Rey Middle during that time for intersession courses.

Older students at Hilltop High took a still different route to help their school-age counterparts who lost most, if not all, of their possessions in the storm. Working with businessmen and philanthropist David Perez, who brought victims to San Diego from storm-ravaged Louisiana, Hilltop students collected school items for those who have found refuge locally. A total of 225 backpacks, filled to the top with paper, pens, pencils, highlighters and a host of other school supplies, were delivered yesterday to Perez. Dean of Students Joe Heinz helped to coordinate the collection, and delivered the items.

“We weren’t sure how we were going to do with this collection effort,” Heinz said. “It started off slowly. But suddenly the kids picked up steam and the donations started rolling in. Our school’s peer mediation group Connect Crew really led the way in gathering items and encouraging people to donate.”

Other avenues of support have included boxes of donations to the San Diego Food Bank and targeted efforts to donate money to the American Red Cross and a Gulf Coast-based housing relief organization to help restore the destroyed homes once those efforts get underway.

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