While the nation’s attention has shifted to Hurricane Michael and the destruction left in its wake along the Florida panhandle, the recovery efforts continue along the North Carolina coast in the communities hit hardest by Hurricane Florence last month.
Earlier this week, Lincoln County Schools joined the outreach efforts by loaning some of the furniture left over after Battleground Elementary was renovated into the school system’s new administrative office building to Jones County Schools, where two of that county’s six public schools have been deemed unfit for students due to severe damages caused by flooding. Jones County, which is located in southeastern North Carolina just eight miles from the coast, sent a trailer to Lincoln County on Monday to pick up desks for students and teachers, trapezoid activity tables and file cabinets.
The relief efforts don’t stop there, however, with Lincoln County Schools now challenging the community to step forward by donating enough school supplies to fill a tractor trailer truck generously provided by Houser Logistics that will be sent to Jones County at the end of the month.
“I really just kind of approached the school board members and (Superintendent) Dr. (Lory) Morrow about doing this school supply drive because one of the many things that Lincoln County does well is, every year at the beginning of school, our organizations -- whether it be nonprofit, faith-based or local businesses -- there are tons of school supply drives going on for our kids in our county,” school board member Heather Rhyne said. “That’s something that we do well here in Lincoln County and I just felt as though there are a lot of people who are wondering how can we help with the people down east, so I thought it would be a good idea to put out a challenge and see if we can fill a tractor trailer with school supplies because I think that we can bring this county together and make that happen.”
The destruction of two Jones County schools, one elementary school and one middle school, has displaced approximately 400 students. The need is great in Jones County and, while all supplies will be accepted with open arms, items such as paper, pencils, folders, composition notebooks and three-ring binders have been cited specifically as areas of need.
“Dr. Michael Bracy, the Jones County Schools superintendent, is a good friend of mine and, in talking to him and hearing about the devastation and the terrible losses that they suffered, it really all came together with Heather’s idea about creating this school supply drive,” Morrow said. “Jones County, after suffering through losing two schools completely, was greatly in need so it just seemed to be a natural fit. We were fortunate here in Lincoln County that the storm did not impact us and this supply drive is a great way for our students and our community to really give back to other students that have been impacted by the storm.”
Lincoln County Schools will be collecting school supplies at each public school location in the county until Oct. 24, at which point the tractor trailer will be sent to Jones County. Specifically, the school system is in search of supplies for elementary and middle school aged children.
“There’s an emphasis in our schools on teaching kids to serve and to give, with schools that volunteer at the Hesed House and various other efforts,” Rhyne said. “This is another teaching method of how our students can give back in a time of need.”