September 13, 2016
Christina Porter, Hamilton Middle School counselor (center); Kesha Bolton, Dean Middle School speech language pathologist (left center); and LeKrystal Simon, Cook Middle School counselor (right center); pose with Keila Stovall, Foundation for East Baton Rouge School System executive director (far left) and Cyndy Rutherford, East Baton Rouge Parish Association of Educators representative (far right) in front of the truck full of donated supplies upon their arrival to the Christa McAulife Center in Baton Rouge, La., on Sept. 10.
Sept. 13, 2016—Aligning with her campus’ service-oriented theme of Make a Difference, Hamilton Middle School seventh-grade counselor Christina Porter chose to follow the call to action in her former college town of Baton Rouge, La., which saw unprecedented flooding in August.
With many East Baton Rouge School System schools flooded and classrooms devastated, more than 42,000 students were in need of a safe classroom with basic supplies as the city prepared to relocate damaged facilities and resume school following the Labor Day holiday.
CFISD representatives help load a U-Haul truck with school supplies for students in Baton Rouge, La., who were displaced by the recent flooding.
Knowing that something needed to be done, Porter reached out to her former Southern University and A&M College classmate and fellow Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., member, Dr. Tia Mills, who serves on the Board of Directors for East Baton Rouge on the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE).
“My call to her was simply ‘What do you guys need? How can we help?’ Porter said. “She told me there was a list of schools that couldn’t be reopened, which meant some schools would have to relocate to new school sites. I asked her to get me a list together of the things they needed and I would take care of the rest.”
Hamilton Middle School initiated the call, and CFISD students and staff representing YMPA/YLPA/HOLA from Duryea Elementary School, Campbell Middle School, Cypress Springs High School, Cypress Ranch High School and Cypress Lakes High School answered as the “After The Storm” emergency supply drive was quickly organized.
Items donated to the “After the Storm” emergency supply drive included tissue, paper towels, hand sanitizer, glue sticks, notebooks, ink pens, colored pencils and markers.
In an effort to assist these students and staff affected by the flooding, donations of tissue, paper towels, hand sanitizer, glue sticks, notebooks, ink pens, colored pencils and markers were collected from the community for a period of almost two weeks. Word of their efforts spread across the district and other schools, including Matzke Elementary School—which collected more than $500 worth of supplies in less than three days. Hamilton’s student council and PBLC members worked together to collect the donated supplies from each advisory class.
Following the donation period, Porter, along with YMPA/YLPA/HOLA steering committee members Kesha Bolton, Dean Middle School; LeKrystal Simon, Cook Middle School; and Gary Hill, Cypress Springs; loaded the supplies on a U-Haul truck and personally delivered them to East Baton Rouge School System and the East Baton Rouge Parish Association of Educators, an affiliate of LAE.
“I called Tia (Dr. Mills) as we were driving over the Mississippi Bridge—a trip I have taken a million times throughout my entire life—to let her know we were entering Baton Rouge and she started to cry,” Porter said. “Knowing what it took to get things organized so quickly and wondering how we were going to pull it off…it was just the most amazing experience. CFISD showed up and showed out!”
Because of the overwhelming response during the drive, the organizers of “After the Storm” are considering doing a second round of donations.
“I just hope we have a big enough truck the next time,” Porter said.