Shouldering the load: ESHS helps ECHO send supplies to hurricane victims

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Eureka Springs High School students load boxes of supplies into a U-Haul at ECHO Thrift Store on Friday, Sept. 8. ECHO took the supplies to Texas to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Photo by Tavi Ellis/Carroll County News

ECHO Thrift Store manager Danyelle Harris knows what a community effort looks like. She saw it all last week, when many locals dropped off donations at the store to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. One local agreed to donate a semi-truck to get the donations to Texas, and Eureka Springs High School students helped load it on Friday morning.

“When I rounded the corner to meet the group, it seemed like about 30 high schoolers,” Harris said. “They were a sight for sore eyes, because we only had a few other volunteers. We had that thing loaded in 25 to 30 minutes.”

Eureka Springs High School principal David Gilmore said he immediately wanted to help out when Harris asked if any students could lend a hand.

“I’m all about it. I want our kids to see that community service side and have empathy for those in need,” Gilmore said. “We rounded up several of our kids. We took our Rotary Interact kids and several other strong boys and girls. It was a good experience. They were all happy to do it, and thankful.”

Gilmore said he doesn’t deserve any credit, saying that goes to everyone who donated to ECHO and all his students who helped load the truck.

“Here we are, and we have the ability to allocate these kids and resources when needed,” Gilmore said. “We’re trying to help out when we can.”

The school is having its own fundraiser for hurricane victims, Gilmore said.

“We started collecting money to donate to RedCross.org. To make it fun and more competitive, we set up a can with different teachers’ pictures on it, myself included,” Gilmore said. “Whichever can has the most money gets a pie in the face.”

Senior Rebekah Copenhaver said she’s proud to go to school at Eureka Springs.

“It’s a blessing, it really is … to be able to be at a school that is willing to have teachers get a pie in the face just to raise money for a cause,” Copenhaver said.

When it came to loading the truck at ECHO, senior Brandon Ray said, he was ready to help.

“I know those people need supplies, and any way I can help them makes me feel good,” Ray said. “I think everybody should help everybody out. If your school doesn’t even try to help you help other people, then what’s the point?”

Freshman Preston Hyatt agreed.

“It made me feel like I’m part of something. It feels great, and I want to keep helping, because it’s better for everyone,” Hyatt said. “We were just there to help them. We didn’t care what we had to do. We just wanted to help.”

There’s no better cause, Copenhaver said, than helping the hurricane victims.

“They’ve lost everything, and we have things, so I’m glad we got to help,” Copenhaver said. “They need it.”

Harris certainly saw that to be true, she said, when her crew arrived in North Conroe, Texas. After unloading the truck at the distribution center, Harris said, they stayed to help process the flood buckets that were being sent to families returning to their homes and beginning the clean-up process.

“They had a noon deadline to finish the 100 buckets remaining,” Harris said. “With all of us, we met that deadline! The distribution warehouse workers informed us of a few remarkable stories of their experiences, like the whole county was cleaned out of diapers, hygiene products, pillows and bottled water.”

Those were among many of the items ECHO brought, Harris said.

“They were so grateful for these items were were able to provide. God is so good,” Harris said.

After helping with the flood buckets, Harris said, the group went to the Lone Star Convention Center, which was set up as a FEMA/Red Cross shelter for evacuees.

“We walked in and were immediately overwhelmed by the weight of loss all the people have experienced. The FEMA workers introduced us to a family of five whom we connected so well,” Harris said. “They invited us to stay longer, which afforded us more time to speak with them, hear their story, pray with them and laugh with them.”

Harris remembered a donation from a 60-year-old autistic citizen of Carroll County, saying that citizen gave one pack of travel wipes.

“It was a small donation in most of our perspectives, but it was huge for him, much like the widow’s mite,” Harris said. “I made sure to personally deliver his donation to the family we connected with at the shelter and shared with them the story behind the donation. We were all in tears. They were so grateful.”

Harris reflected on the trip, saying she felt emotional remembering everyone she met in Texas.

“It was wonderful being able to be down there working together as a team,” Harris said. “We didn’t see color. We didn’t see religion. We didn’t see political party. We just saw humans in need and were able to connect on that level. It was beautiful and gratifying.”

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