DECATUR — Sometimes the most basic needs are the most keenly felt.
Hannah Lybarger, math chair at Eisenhower High School, was visiting a Florida-based educational Facebook page called Sun, Sand and the Second Grade when she saw a post about adopting a Houston-area classroom to help with Hurricane Harvey relief.
The idea was to match classrooms around the rest of the country with affected classrooms in Houston, to provide them with school supplies that were ruined by the hurricane.
“I signed up right away and about four or five days later, they contacted me and said they had a match for me, and set me up with her name and school and contact information and everything,” Lybarger said. “So I contacted her via email and she said that they wouldn't be opening (school) until this week, but they were just looking for supplies. They were getting ready to start school and couldn't. Getting ready to go to school, parents do all their school shopping and now, (the supplies) are gone.”
Lybarger is a Millikin University alumna. When she posted about the project on social media, Millikin's math chair, Joe Stickles, saw it, and thought this was a way Millikin could pitch in and help, too. He contacted the president of the university's math club, who went right to work putting up posters around campus and getting the word out there, too.
The Houston teacher Lybarger was matched with told her that because other schools were more heavily damaged than hers, she'll have students from other schools in her class temporarily.
“Some kids may have some supplies left, and some may have none,” Lybarger said. “I thought it would be a good idea. Moms kind of go crazy buying supplies. If you have an extra notebook you're not using, Mom bought you eight and you only need six, let's send it down there.”
She placed a plastic crate in her classroom for students to drop donations into, and it filled up, then the floor next to it filled up, then the table behind it filled up, and the first box went to Houston on Saturday last week. Now that Millikin is involved, the plan is to send a second box on Saturday this week.
“We said we've got to help somehow,” Stickles said. “A big component of our freshman seminar here is doing service learning, so our students are big on giving back to the community.”
The classroom in Houston is ninth-grade biology, Lybarger said, and she simply told her Eisenhower students to bring whatever sort of supplies they use themselves: paper, pencils, pens, spiral notebooks, folders.
Since Hurricane Irma hit Florida, the matching process has been somewhat delayed, but Briana Beverly, the page administrator for Sun, Sand & Second Grade, said as soon as power is back on in the Orlando area, where she's located, she'll get the rest of the matching done.