Hundreds of book bags from Harrison Co. heading to Sandy victims - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hundreds of book bags from Harrison Co. heading to Sandy victims

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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Hundreds of New Jersey children who are displaced by Hurricane Sandy will be getting a big surprise when they return to school in January. Each student will get a gift from the Harrison County School District.

Last month, West Wortham Elementary and Middle School kicked-off a collection drive to help a school that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Now, support for the relief project has spread district wide.

On Monday, the students formed an assembly line, stuffing book bags with school supplies.

"Markers, crayons, pretty much any school supplies that they might want," said eighth grader Taylor Hendrickson.

West Wortham Elementary and Middle School is the sorting site for the "Hurricane Sandy School Supply Drive".  They are trying to help a school that's more than 1,200 miles away.

"It blows my mind that we got this much stuff together, just our school," said Taylor.

What started as a small project by the school's History Club and Future Business Leaders of America has grown to include all 21 schools in Harrison County.

"I really like doing this because when Hurricane Katrina hit, we didn't have very much and we had a whole bunch of supplies from a bunch of different places to help us get started in our school year. It just feels good to give back," said Blake Caudill, FBLA Vice President.

In one month, the district collected about 900 book bags, along with large boxes of school items.

"I think they're just going to be amazed. They're just going to have so much stuff," said Caudill.

"It has really surprised me the sense of giving that these children have. They have come forward to give their own stuff, wanting to give their own book bags," said Karen Levins, History Club Sponsor.

On December 13, West Wortham's principal will drive up to New Jersey to deliver the donations to Memorial School (K-8th grade) in Union Beach.

"I'm hoping to leave December 13 with a friend of mine, Terry Hurst. He's volunteered to drive us up there and pay for the fuel," said Principal Paul Sanford.

Memorial School flooded in Hurricane Sandy, displacing about 850 students.

"Their school is closed down until January. They're in some alternate location. But when the school opens in January, I was told it would be a great pleasure to hand them a new book bag, with a new start in a new school," said Sanford.

"A lot of the kids are not even in their homes, so it's very similar to what our students went through after Hurricane Katrina," said Levins. "I really think that when they return to their home school, and they have their very own book bag full of their own stuff, it will give them a sense of welcome home, welcome back."

"We're hoping to put a small note in there that says, 'From Harrison County School District, West Wortham School, good luck and best wishes to you,'" said Sanford.

The school district has also collected more than $6,200 for the students in New Jersey. The money will be used to purchase gift cards. If you'd like to donate money or school supplies, you can still drop them off at any school in Harrison County. The deadline is Friday.

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