Dec. 02–MONTANDON — Students at Midd-West Middle School had little trouble collecting donations of school supplies to send to a Texas school district devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
The trouble was finding a way to deliver all 584 pounds of pencils, markers and more to the Houston suburb of La Marque, Texas.
Watsontown Trucking will do the favor.
The Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce reached out to the trucking firm on behalf of teacher Gretchen Powell and the sixth- and seventh-grade students who donated supplies. Instead of paying to ship each of 22 boxes, Watsontown Trucking will haul it next week for free.
“If I can’t do this, I don’t deserve to be in business,” said Steve Patton, president of Watsontown Trucking, as the supplies were carried into a warehouse Friday.
Hurricane Harvey flooded greater Houston and much of Texas’ gulf coast when it made landfall in late August. Media reports estimate damages of $200 billion, costlier than the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
News about Harvey was discussed in the sixth-grade classroom of Powell as part of current events. Students wanted to help, Powell said. That’s all it took to spur the collection of donated materials.
Powell found La Marque Middle School through a website connecting educators, Teachers Pay Teachers. Midd-West “adopted” La Marque.
“Three of their schools are shut down completely. They’re done,” Powell said, noting the Texas district will have to rebuild since the buildings weren’t fit for repair.
Powell said she didn’t want to bother teachers in La Marque much given the situation, but she’s heard back on several occasions. One message stood out.
“Knowing that you guys are in this gives us hope,” Powell said of what one teacher told her of Midd West’s charity.
Students made a list of supplies and went to work. When the collection ended, donations filled 22 boxes of varied sizes. Another donation drive would have been needed to ship the goods. One box weighing 64.5 pounds would cost $80 to ship, Powell said. Another at 3.5 pounds: $20.
Powell spread the word on Facebook about the collection and the need to deliver the supplies to Texas.
Tea Jay Aikey, chamber president and CEO, saw it and responded. She first turned to chamber members but the logistics didn’t work. She then called Watsontown Trucking which took on the delivery free of charge, planning to haul the boxes on an already-Texas-bound truck and trailer.
“Our region always seems to step up,” Aikey said.
Patton said his firm already hauled three full truckloads of donated supplies from the area to Texas since the hurricane. They delivered to Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, too.
There was an offer of $86 from Powell and company to offset costs. Patton said thanks but no thanks. He took it on at no charge.
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