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When Hurricane Harvey tore through the neighborhoods of Houston, Texas this past week – the entire country was bombarded with devastating images of people walking through waist-high water, traveling in anything that floats, and leaving behind their homes to seek shelter.
When confronted by this large of a catastrophe, it’s easy to feel helpless. This is especially true for people who are geographically far from Houston and don’t feel like there is anything actionable they can do to help.
But, every action helps – no matter how small. There are tons of organizations to donate to, from helping pets get to safety to giving blood to the red cross, but this post is specifically about how you and your parent group can send assistance to schools and kids in Houston who need our help.
Check out these ten ways to make a difference in Houston:
Kathryn Butler Mills, a second grade teacher from Katy, Texas has started a Facebook group for students in flood-stricken communities to get a little bit of normal in their lives. In the group, people are invited to post videos of themselves reading books - in an effort to provide a distraction from the devastation and to keep the momentum from the new school year going.
The Book Club's readers include children’s book authors and illustrators, elementary school teachers and librarians, as well as ordinary book lovers. You can request to join the group and post your own video of your child or students reading, as well as interact and enourage the children from Texas who have posted videos.
Many social media posts about Harvey have included a call to donate to the Red Cross - and it's for good reason. The Red Cross does boots-on-the-ground work and they are active in Houston and the sourrounding areas - including providing much-needed assistance to schools affected by the flood.
The Houston Food Bank has an amazing program specifically to help feed kids. With many of the schools closed due to the flood, children who depend on school lunches are in need of food to supplement those meals. You can make a difference by giving a monetary gift.
Just $1 provides three meals, or you could make a larger donation from your school (a $100 donation will provide 300 nutrtious meals for our hungry neighbors in Houston).
For anyone around the Houston area but far enough away to stay safe from the flood, you can hook up with Air BNB to provide urgent accommodations to evacuees. You can open up your home to those in need (free of charge) and provide warmth and shelter.
It's natural to want to protect our young ones from witnessing devastation or learning that tragedy like a flood can occur. But, chances are your children/students have heard news of and seen photos from the disaster in Houston. Use this as an opportunity to quell the fears of your kids by educating them on natural disasters and best practices to implement should something happen. Here are some talking points, resources, and children's books from the American School Counselor Association.
DonorsChoose.org has been an incredible tool for schools during this trying time. They have a special place to donate to classrooms affected by the flood in both Houston and Louisiana. You can either give to their general fund or you can choose individual classrooms to donate to. This may be an option for your school: Each classroom adopts a classroom affected by the flood and provides money through donations for rebuilding and restocking classrooms with materials like books, furniture, classroom supplies, technology, and therapy resources.
Thousands of families and children have been displaced from their homes in Houston and the surrounding areas. As many as 20,000 are seeking shelter and the children that make up this number are not only in need of safety and wellbeing, but also the assurance that their lives can one day go back to normal after this devastation. By donating to the Hurricane Harvey Children's Relief Fund, you can help provide child-friendly spaces in emergency shelters, food, water, emergency supplies, portable cribs, diapers, and baby and child hygiene kits for families.
One way to give back to students in Texas is to donate to the TLA Disaster Relief Fund, which provides grant to libraries impacted by the disaster. You can donate directly online or you can purchase TLA coloring books (set of two for $10) and other items from their fundraising store.
By donating to the Texas diaper bank you are actively meeting the basic needs of vulnerable babies, children with disabilities, and seniors. The diaper bank uses your donation to purchase diapers and send them to partner agencies that can get them into the hands of people who need them.
Give directly to teachers in need by supporting the Texas AFT teacher union. Educators can apply for assistance and donations are used to assist those members get back on their feet. The Texas AFT also provides a list of resources for those seeking help - including school conditions, road closures, places of shelter, and important insurance claims information.