During times of natural disaster or tragedy, it is not uncommon for the people of Sharp County to reach out to one another and band together to help their neighbors.
The students and faculty of the Highland School District took that to another level May 5 as they traveled in caravan style to their “rival” community of Pocahontas. Vehicles were loaded down with supplies and food to help with the relief efforts of the recent flood victims.
With several trucks, vans and a school bus of supplies, the group made their first stop at the emergency shelter located near the heart of town.
After everything was unloaded and taken to the proper holding spot, the group gathered together near the center of the shelter to hear from Senator Linda Collins-Smith who had been boots on the ground since the flooding began.
“I want to thank you all for coming to help the citizens that are less fortunate and have been displaced. Many of them are staying in this facility,” Collins-Smith said. “It’s not just here. There are churches taking people in, hotels, individuals and we don’t know how many people have been displaced in Arkansas and that’s Arkansas alone and we may never know. We certainly will never know the generosity and people who have donated their time, their monetary gifts, their items because right now we’re dealing with the immediate issue. It’s going to be a long term recovery.”
Smith went on to commend the students for their efforts and express her appreciation for their hard work and reaching beyond themselves to help others in need.
Marti Little, a volunteer coordinator for the relief efforts, said they are grateful for the donations which were gathered by students and staff, but the relief efforts will be ongoing and the needs change from day to day.
“We have ongoing needs for our community. Bedding, cleaning supplies, anything that can help these families get set back up and help them rebuild. At this shelter, our immediate needs, and the needs change day to day, but right now, we need tall socks for our national guardsmen, storage tubs because we need more organization. We need a way to store the donations that are coming in. We need laundry baskets because we use them here at the shelter and have a laundry service,” Little said. “Those are going out. A lot of people in the community are coming in and need supplies. Food is a great need, non-perishable items.We have guardsmen and city workers that are constantly on the go. Needs for over the counter medicine; Tylenol, cold medicine things like that. Hangers, we’re still taking donations of clothing and plus size clothing is a big need. Large trash bags; pretty much anything anyone would need for their home we need.”
Little said the supplies go out nearly as quickly as they are coming in.
After their time at the emergency shelter, the students did not return home, but rather joined students from the Pocahontas Schools at a nearby fire department to work together to cook and serve food to the volunteers who have been working since Sunday.
The Salem School District also sent donations which were carried by the Highland Schools to be donated.