By Nikki Moses
How can we help?
That was the burning question asked by compassionate people in West Virginia and beyond after devastating flooding hit the Mountain State in June.
Two people called state Board of Education member Beverly Kingery. She was on vacation, but she said, “Give me a day or two…”
Matt Browning, communications director at West Virginia State University, contacted Read Aloud: “Can we work together to help?”
Many more followed. As momentum built, it became clear that a coordinated effort was needed. Bev Kingery, along with husband Phil, took the lead in the project that has put 9,875 backpacks filled with school supplies in the hands of West Virginia students in time for the new school year!
Donations worth more than $200,000 began flowing in. Businesses, religious organizations, civic and professional groups, educators and individuals and the media dove in.
What could have been logistical chaos (10,000 packs of paper, 30,000 spiral notebooks, pencils galore…) was a smooth operation under Kingery’s guidance. The former school teacher, principal and superintendent procured warehouse space at an 84 Lumber facility Logan. With the help of many community leaders and volunteers the sorting and packing and transporting began. Logan County’s Commission, Board of Education and Sheriff were key players. Deliveries to students began Aug. 5.
In Kanawha County, Bridget Foster led collection efforts with the help of Read Aloud and WVSU Extension Service. WOWK-TV asked viewers to fill a school bus in their Quarrier Street Parking lot, while Capitol Market, Charleston Town Center Mall, Courtyard Marriott, South Charleston Public Library, Wal-Mart in South Charleston and WVSU all served as drop-off locations to provide ease of access for donors.
Counties across the state saw communities come together to help. “This was a case of many hands making light work,” Mary Kay Bond said. “Everyone worked together.”
Nikki Moses is the former editor of the Read Aloud newsletter and a board member. She is an active volunteer in the Charleston community.