Web serves as link for schools aiding schools in disaster areas

Tornadoes in Missouri, Alabama and Oklahoma and record flooding in North Dakota took an enormous toll on local communities - but they also inflicted deep wounds on public schools.

In the case of Minot, ND - classrooms were deluged when the Souris River poured over its banks leaving behind water-sodden furniture, books, and instructional materials.

In numerous places across the south and southwest, tornados left schools in tatters with roofs ripped away from classroom walls and windows blown out of buildings campus-wide.

As emergency aid and insurance adjusters poured into damage zones, the needs of schools has often gone overlooked. But a loose coalition of charities has formed around school needs - much of it organized and managed by teachers, students and parents from other schools.

According to reports, 18 schools were severely damaged across Alabama by tornadoes that ripped through the state in April including the elementary and high school in Hackleburg and three schools in Tuscaloosa.

But organizations like the Donor's Choose and Grant Wrangler websites are connecting would be donors to devastated classrooms where contributions are already beginning to bring some normalcy back to life.

A group of cheerleaders from Santa Rosa High School, for instance, are planning a social event to raise funds to help the Joplin High cheer squad replace lost uniforms and equipment.

It was not meant to be a civics lesson, but the more I talk to my athletes the more that I see that it has touched them in more ways than just doing something 'nice' for another team," explained Tena Hanford, team coach.

"They are growing into responsible community members and accountable young adults that they will take this experience with them in life and will always remember this as something very special," she said.

The impact on the receiving side of things is also very real.

"The recent horrific tornado has taken so much, including the comfort of home, school and even more for some. They are having to start completely fresh and new," said one teacher from Joplin, MO. who only identified herself as Ms. P.

"By providing these books for our library you will be giving them a chance to escape and to dream," she said in a Donor's Choose posting.

Those wishing to donate to Ms. P's classroom and others can do so by visiting the Donor's Choose website at www.donorschoose.org.

Also creating space to help connect schools and teachers with resources is Grant Wrangler (www.grantwrangler.com), a clearinghouse of information on small grants and services for classroom teachers.

Grant Wrangler has created a page on its website specifically for those schools in disaster zones seeking assistance.

"At Grant Wrangler, we hope to connect people who need help to those who can offer it," the site reads.

Among those offering help via Grant Wrangler, the Alabama High School Athletics Association has established a tornado relief fund to help sister schools recover from the damage left behind.

On the local level, California school children are finding ways to help.

A thirteen year old girl from Santa Ana, CA, instead of wishing for bat mitzvah gifts, asked for books to be donated to school children in Joplin, MO. She collected over 3,000 books and delivered them to Joplin schools over the July 4th weekend.

Kindergartners from Chico, CA, sent a box of gently used toys, books, and clothes to families in Missouri.

In case Santa Rosa is close enough to allow supporting their fundraising effort - the team will be serving hors d'oeuvres and hosting a wine tasting complete with entertainment, July 30. The event will be held at the Wells Fargo Center on the north end of town.

For more information: www.srhscheer.com

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