WAXAHACHIE — Compassion runs deep in Waxahachie as two extraordinary Oliver E. Clift Elementary students are making a difference with selfless donation drives to help both Hurricane Harvey and Mexico earthquake victims.

“We have some incredible students,” began Christi Kubin, Principal of Clift Elementary. “Our theme this year is ‘Kindness Matters, ’ and we’re trying to instill in the kids to not only be kind to one another in the building but also out in the community as well.”

“And these two are absolutely showing kindness in this case,” she added.

Though both Aniaya Crawford and Dwight Jennings had separate donation drives to assist two parts of the world, the two students took this year’s theme to heart and decided to do something about it, sharing a common thread of goodwill.

“We were watching the news, and it showed pictures of how Houston neighborhoods looked,” recalled Aniaya Crawford, a fifth grader, of the moment after Hurricane Harvey made landfall. “We saw the people having to swim in the water to find somewhere safe to go and all the people having to go to a shelter to have a place to live, so I thought that maybe we could help.”

“So me, my mom, and my sister were talking about what we could donate, and I was like, ‘Well, I could probably start a project at school that could help donate more than us just donating alone,’” she acknowledged. “I know we can’t give them a home, but we could at least donate stuff to help them get back on their feet.”

Bringing her idea to Kubin, Crawford’s idea was approved as she designed a donation box, posters, and prepared a speech for her school’s morning announcements to spread the word.

“When they asked us, I was like, ‘Wow! Okay! What can we do to help,’” Kubin told of her initial reaction to both students' projects. “And Aniaya, over the weekend, had created a poster to put up and I said, ‘We’ve got to have some more and get the word out through announcements.’”

“To help the other students understand what’s going on, we encourage them to make an announcement and make a visual,” added Anita Barnes, Clift Elementary's Counselor. “Like the box, to do a community service project.”

“So she [Aniaya] decorated the school with her posters and this really cute big box, and it got filled immediately and went beyond that,” Kubin agreed.

“A lot of people brought stuff like hygiene stuff, clothes, books, school supplies and canned goods,” Crawford added. “They [other classmates] were telling me ‘Good job,’ and that ‘It was a really good idea and I’ll start donating now.’ So they were excited about the idea of me starting something.”

“I didn’t think it was going to get this big,” she chuckled. “It makes me feel good about myself that I can help.”

After connecting with another school in Houston through a friend of Barnes, Crawford’s donations will help students affected by the mass flooding.

“The donation is going to a Houston school because of somebody Mrs. Barnes knows, and they’re going to put my picture on a bulletin board in the school,” Crawford smiled.

As the donations are currently in route to a school in Houston, Kubin also highlighted the school’s newest donation drive to help earthquake victims in Mexico.

“So we did Aniaya’s drive for about two weeks, and then we closed that one, and we’re just starting Dwight’s,” Kubin explained.

“We were watching the news, and when we were eating dinner, I said, ‘Mexico looks like that,’” Jennings told of his memory of seeing the images of the devastating 7.1 earthquakes. “And then my dad said, ‘Yes,’ then they said it’s not New Mexico, but it’s Mexico. So I asked Mrs. Barnes if I could start a water drive for Mexico and she said that would be fine.”

Making an “H20 for Mexico” donation box on Sept. 28, Jennings also hung posters, announced his drive to his classmates, and is currently planning how the water will get to Mexico.

“I’m just starting because I just put my box out, but once we get the water, my dad is going to take it to The Salvation Army, and they’re going to take it to Mexico,” Jennings confirmed with a nod.

“We’re just so proud of their planning and their hearts for others,” Kubin expressed.

“I’ve seen students that have just gathered around them,” Barnes jumped in. “Aniaya and Dwight were the visionaries that started the idea, and they definitely brought students around them to collect and grab onto the idea and move forward with it, so we’re expecting great things.”

“I think it’s important to help others,” Jennings added.

“Yeah, it’s really important to help people in need because we know that they’d do the same for us if we needed help,” Crawford finished with a grin.

The “H2O for Mexico” drive will be open for two weeks. To make a donation or connect with Clift Elementary, visit wisd.org or call (972)-923-4720.


Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer