The Red Oak Independent School District paid it forward with donations of checks and supplies worth over $10,000 to two Dallas district schools, Friday.
Walnut Hill Elementary and Thomas Jefferson High in the Walnut Hill neighborhood of North Dallas were left damaged beyond repair after tornadoes ripped through the area last month.
Red Oak students and faculty answered the call — raising funds and collecting some twenty boxes of school supplies and non-perishable food items.
It was just four years ago when Shields Elementary was shuttered for nearly a year after being struck by the same disastrous whirlwind.
“When Red Oak was hit by a tornado, it was a tragedy,” said Hannah Harper, a Red Oak Middle School eighth-grader who helped to make the delivery. “I wanted to help them and give to them how other communities gave to us.”
“Many of the Red Oak High School students were in fifth and sixth grade when their elementary school was hit by a tornado, and they still remember what it was like for their campus to be displaced,” ROHS Student Council Sponsor Angela Thomas added. “More than that though, our students truly have a giving spirit and when called upon to help, they don’t disappoint.”
Together, Red Oak elementary schools and the district’s Little Hawks Learning Center raised over $2,200 for Walnut Hill Elementary.
The funds gathered by the district’s secondary campuses and Education Service Center for Thomas Jefferson High reached over $7,500.
“These tornadoes were a shock and the devastation was tremendous,” said ROMS Counselor Jennifer Mena, who was also on hand to drop off the supplies. “The principal of Thomas Jefferson, Sandi Massey, is a long-time friend of mine and even prior boss. I know her huge heart for her students and staff and wanted us to jump in and support them any way we could. I was so glad we were not only able to support TJ, but also able to help Walnut Hill Elementary.”
The Red Oak High School Student Council (STUCO) and the theater department took the lead on organizing the fundraiser and collection drive, which extended to other districts. The Texas Association of Student Councils — District 3 also dove in neck-deep, donating the majority of the supplies.
“We just called on kids to bring things,” ROHS Theater Teacher Katrina Kenner explained. “We asked the theater kids to bring items. STUCO hopped on board to encourage other classes and other STUCOs in the DFW area. The class with the most donations received a breakfast from STUCO. We also collected money for a free Dress Day across the district.”
Dress Day allowed students to wear jeans, sweats, leggings and T-shirts on specific days. While it was free for all students, they were encouraged to donate $5. Donations also came in from staff and faculty.
The Dallas Independent School District did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication, but Mena said the schools were grateful for the show of support and solidarity.
“They were surprised at how much we were able to raise,” Mena said. “It was a huge blessing to them and will go directly to helping the students and staff.”