UPDATE: Since 11Alive aired the story on this project, the school and airport have gathered more than 125,000 bottles of water - and they're not done yet!
ROME, Ga. -- When there is a need, people will step up to help fill it – especially during a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey.
And while there are many examples of that as Texans escape the floodwaters of the massive storm one of the most heartwarming examples may be a group of children in Rome, Georgia proving you’re never too young to make a difference.
Houston may be more than 700 miles away but for youngsters at Elm Street Elementary School, it might as well be right next door.
Working through Russell Regional Airport, these kids gathered water to send to residents recovering from the floods of Hurricane Harvey. The Title I school has 98 percent of its students on various lunch programs. But that didn’t stop them from doing what they can to help. They never stopped giving – and never stopped making things work.
Each year, they contribute to the 11Alive Canathon coming into Atlanta on a city bus with hundreds of donations. Now they’re putting their efforts toward helping Houston – a city in desperate need of fresh water.
When officials put out the call on Sunday, case after case of water arrived at the elementary school – many from students and their parents. By Wednesday, the school expects thousands of bottles of water all bound for Houston.
So how does it all get there? This shipment will make the journey on a C-45 loaned out by the Museum of Flight at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport. That aircraft will be making several trips before all is said and done. This flight alone will be carrying 5,000 bottles to those in need. Another jet loaned out of Chattanooga, Tennessee will land on Tuesday to take even more and still thousands more will be delivered by truck.
In all, they originally hoped to send as many as 28,000 bottles of water to Texas, but they've already surpassed 125,000. And the whole process started with the students at Elm Street and a teacher, Melanie Arrington, who helped organize it.
“Well, we got a call from FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] – they said, actually they called the airport and then the airport reached out to us because they know that Elm Street loves to help the community,” Arrington said. “Our students love to help. They will use their ice cream money, they will pull things out of their cabinet – whatever to help others because it just makes them feel good.”
Student Savannah Long agrees.
“We do this because it’s just really nice to know that we can help people who don’t have – as much as we can,” she said. “And we know that they’re in such a bad place right now with all the flooding and they have tons of water but they can’t drink it.”
Long said she felt really good to see all the water her classmates had gathered to help the victims of one of the worst natural disasters in recent American history.
“We’re actually helping real people for a real-world problem,” she said.
And you can be part of it all. School and airport officials are asking anyone interested in helping to bring water bottles to Elm Street Elementary School or Russell Regional Airport.
For those looking for more ways to help victims, the American Red Cross is taking donations at 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donations can also be made by texting REDCROSS to 90999.
11Alive’s parent company TEGNA has also set up an online service to donate. Just go to 11Alive.com/TexasCares.