PALM BEACH, Fla. — As schools in Southwest Florida work to get back on track after Hurricane Ian, support is pouring in from across the state and the country.
That includes some special donation drives and fundraisers in Palm Beach County public schools.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
School supplies like glue, pencils, and markers all being collected at Palm Beach Public School and from teacher Katie Judge's second grade class, headed out to Southwest Florida to help kids at the damaged Sanibel School.
Judge, a 20-year teacher, is trying to imagine what it would be like to come back to school after a devastating hurricane.
"Some of the teachers lost their homes and their vehicles, too," Judge said. "So that adds a whole other layer of worry for them. So if they don't have to worry so much about their classroom and their supplies for their kids, I think that will be helpful."
So Judge rallied her students to help.
"We talked about, look around the classroom. Look at what's in your desk, our classroom library, our anchor charts on the wall, our treasure box toys, our recess equipment. All of that would be damaged," Judge said.
So they launched a school supply donation drive specifically for the Sanibel School, an island school just like Palm Beach Public School, and one of the most heavily damaged in Lee County.
"They can't go there anymore because the school got a little destroyed by the hurricane," one of Judge's students said. "And now when they come back, they'll have some supplies for them."
"I cannot keep up with, 'How can I help?'" said Rob Spicker, the assistant director of media relations and public information for the School District of Lee County. "And our kids are going to need it and we are grateful and thankful people are thinking of us during this time."
Spicker said support is coming from every school district in Florida.
"The Sanibel School is one of our greater challenges. We've acknowledged that," Spicker said. "We've made a tentative plan for those students to stay as a group and partner with an elementary school that has room for them."
It's not only Palm Beach Public School pitching in to help.
Woodlands Middle School raised at least $1,000 for the Florida Disaster Relief Fund, and Sandpiper Shores Elementary School collected more than $2,000 through Penny Wars.
"I think that's really important these days to see a small contribution can really go a long way if everybody does it together," Judge said.
A simple lesson leaving a lasting impact.
"If they can come to school and at least have something that feels normal to them, I think that was the idea. Making school feel normal for them," Judge said.
Palm Beach Public School has a collection box outside on Seaview Avenue for members of the community who want to donate.
The collection goes until the end of October, and Judge plans to drive the supplies over to the Sanibel School in November.
These are the items the Sanibel School is most in need of:
- Paper (copy, notebook, construction)
- Writing utensils (markers, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, Expo markers)
- Glue sticks
- Post-It notes
- Composition books
- Pencil boxes
- Used and new children’s books
13 schools will reopen in Lee County on Monday, and the rest will reopen on a rolling schedule over the following days. To donate to the School District of Lee County, click here.