Back-to-school flood relief drive exceeds expectations

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.

Kanawha County Participates In Back-to-School Supply Drive for Flood Victims

The West Virginia Department of Education is leading a multi-county effort to help schools affected by the June flooding in West Virginia to replenish their lost supplies and provide needed materials for students. A Back-to-School Supply Drive will take place July 17-30 with collection sites operating throughout Kanawha County.

“Thousands of our children experienced the devastation of the recent catastrophic floods in our beloved state,” said State Board of Education member Beverly Kingery. “These children will soon return to school and many will return with few belongings and still much uncertainty in their lives.”

The goal of the drive is to provide each individual student in the severely affected flood areas with a book bag of school supplies. Organizers have set a goal of collecting 8,000 book bags with supplies such as pencils, ink pens and rulers.

A list of needed school supplies, grouped by grade level, is available on the West Virginia Department of Education website.

Collection sites in Kanawha County include the following locations during business hours:

After items are collected, they will be packaged by volunteers and distributed to affected schools as the new academic year begins.

More than 20 people died and thousands of homes, schools and businesses were damaged as a result of flash flooding that struck multiple counties in West Virginia in June. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has made federal disaster declarations for a number of counties.

The West Virginia Department of Education is partnering with Read Aloud West Virginia and West Virginia State University Extension Service to collect donations in Kanawha County.

For further details and a statewide list of collection sites, visit the West Virginia Department of Education website.