Saturday, September 17, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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School communities rally to help Katrina victims

Seattle Times staff reporter

How to help schools

Communities in Schools of Washington State: The Washington network of this national nonprofit will collect donations at its Puyallup Fair booth through Sept. 25. Donations will go directly to CIS networks in affected states to help schools. (

Council of Chief State School Officers suggests making school kits with a list of recommended items such as pencils, crayons and paper. (

U.S. Department of Education lists schools serving students displaced by the hurricane and their needs. Groups with needed items such as books, clothes or other supplies can contact the schools directly. (

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction: Our state's Web site provides links to education and relief organizations. (

National Education Association is coordinating adopt-a-school efforts. (

Washington State PTA offers resource links and suggestions on its Web site. (

Do Something: Through Sept. 30, the national philanthropy organization for young people is coordinating collections of backpacks with school supplies and personal items (toothbrushes, etc.). (

Free shipping: Alki Mail and Dispatch, 4701 S.W. Admiral Way, Seattle; and Ballard Mail and Dispatch — Sip and Ship, 1752 N.W. Market St., Seattle, are shipping supply donations (no clothing) for free to a relief center in Louisiana through the end of the month. ( or

In the back-to-school excitement, local students, parents and educators didn't forget Gulf Coast families. Area schools are doing everything from read-a-thons to popcorn sales to collecting Beanie Babies to support hurricane victims.

Mountlake Terrace High School's student body association asked students and staff to bring in $1 on their second day of school and collected $4,100 in 20 minutes for the American Red Cross, said adviser Kim Stewart.

On the first day of school at A.G. Bell Elementary School in Kirkland, two sixth-grade students, Samantha Nahay and Yelena Serbinenko, asked about holding a coin drive. After talking to students and staff last Tuesday, the girls visited classrooms each morning to collect donations for the Red Cross. By last Friday, the total grew to $2,230.

"Students emptied their piggy banks, parents emptied their purses and wallets, staff members wrote checks and others who happened by the school chipped in," noted principal Jeff Newport. "A group of seniors who live in the school's neighborhood heard of the coin drive and contributed."

Many schools brought back activities they used last year to raise money for tsunami victims. Jim Ohlsen's seventh-grade students at Seattle's Denny Middle School are making bead bracelets to sell for $1, just as his science class did last year to raise more than $1,000 for the Red Cross.

Besides emergency fund-raising, some local PTAs hope to adopt schools in the hurricane-damaged areas or in nearby states coping with an influx of new students.

According to The Associated Press, an estimated 372,000 students were displaced from classrooms in Louisiana and Mississippi. In Louisiana, more than 489 schools closed because of the storm.

The PTA at Cooper Elementary School in West Seattle is collecting school supplies and gently used stuffed animals, games and toys for an elementary school it plans to adopt in New Orleans. The PTA contacted the school district there and hopes to link with a specific school soon, said co-president Shannon Woodbury. The group, which also plans to make no-sew blankets, wants to maintain its effort throughout the school year.

Students from Seattle's Montlake Elementary School raised $2,000 for Mercy Corps selling donuts in front of the University of Washington football game last weekend and now is collecting school supplies and toys to mail to a Louisiana relief center, with free shipping through Alki Mail and Dispatch. The school librarian's mother lives in Louisiana and hopes to set up a pen-pal exchange and ongoing support for affected students.

Two parents at Kent's Grass Lake Elementary School already were scheduled to travel to Baton Rouge for a conference they were leading for their nonprofit organization, FIT Decisions. Though the conference was canceled, they're still going for a week to help out, taking along community and school donations of new underwear and quiet activities for children in evacuation centers.

"I have 100 boxes of crayons in one suitcase and over 100 coloring and activity books in another," said Gina Guddat, who left yesterday with her husband, Joel. They also have playing cards donated by local casinos, games and toys. "The displaced children have nothing to do," she said.

Daniel Bagley Elementary School in North Seattle has gathered enough donated school supplies to outfit 35 to 40 students, said PTA vice president Hilary Facer. She announced the collection at the school's first-day welcome coffee for parents and linked up with a couple schools that accepted displaced students.

"My kids were so excited to buy their supplies and start school," said the mom of a third-grader and kindergartner. "I asked them, 'What would it feel like to be so excited to go back to school and the first day, your school is gone?' The kids there were all geared up for the same thing as our kids here, and all of it's gone."

More efforts:

• At Newport High School, Jerry Borth's advanced marketing class is raising funds for the Red Cross through a project modeled on "The Apprentice." The class divided into two teams, which compete to raise the most money from other students and local businesses. He expects the class will garner $9,000 to $12,000.

• Susan Turner, a physical-education teacher at West Seattle's Sanislo Elementary School, is coordinating a benefit show featuring student performing groups for 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at West Seattle High School. Donations will benefit a relief agency. For more information, call 206-723-8096.

• As part of Successful Schools in Action, seven schools in the Queen Anne and Magnolia neighborhoods are planning to raise funds to buy bulk school supplies to stuff in backpacks donated by World Vision, which will ship the packs to Baton Rouge for displaced students. Local students also may include letters or drawings. Schools include McClure Middle School; Coe, Hay and Lawton elementary schools; The Center School; Catharine Blaine K-8; and the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center.

Covington Elementary School students wrote letters to send to students at Covington Elementary in Covington, La. In two days, they also collected more than $1,000 in a partnership with the Covington Rotary Club, which will send the donations to the Rotary in Covington, La.

Stephanie Dunnewind:

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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