Elementary students help hurricane relief

PHOTO PROVIDED Williamsport Area School District’s Cochran Primary School students help put together hygiene packs and cleaning supplies at Cochran Primary School recently in order to help those in need due to hurricane disasters.

Even local elementary students are trying to do their part to help with hurricane relief efforts after so many people have been affected by the natural disasters over the last few months.

Williamsport Area School District’s Cochran Primary School teamed up with First United Methodist Church, 604 Market St., to pack up 25 hygiene kits and three 5-gallon buckets of cleaning supplies to donate to hurricane relief.

The school also raised money to go toward the cost of shipping the donations.

“We accepted donations into the building and, as people dropped off donations, we accumulated them in the building,” said Thomas Bartholomew, assistant principal at Cochran.

Students themselves helped put together the packages.

“There was a list we followed that included what to put in, how to pack it, so on and so forth,” he said. “We did that with two sets of 25 students. Overall, we raised right around $3,000 for hurricane relief.”

The guidelines were provided by the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

Among the items they gathered were air fresheners, dish detergent, toothpaste, hand towels, hand soaps, toothbrushes, cleaning brushes and other supplies for hygiene and cleaning.

“We use primarily third-graders because at that age they can comprehend the benefit and the goodness of doing something for other people,” Bartholomew said. “We wanted to involve as many as we could.”

He said that even at the elementary level, it’s important to learn how to be a member of the community.

“The teachers discussed in the classroom why it’s important to reach out to people in the community and help people who are recovering from disaster or set back in their own lives,” he said.

The students were interested in the details about the project.

“They were very excited. They asked a lot of questions about when it will get there, what else do people need … They were asking very appropriate questions about it,” he said. “I believe that it was a real benefit to them as far as a learning experience.”

Cindy Schuyler, principal of Cochran, was pleased with the youngsters’ response.

“I just think bringing their awareness to the needs of the community is important … We did talk about how there were kids there that have needs and we were helping them,” she said. “Even at their young age, they can understand it and, hopefully, making them aware can make them good citizens in the future.”

She said the relationship with the church really helped provide a means for the students to use their efforts.

“We really enjoyed the partnership we had with the church and working on this project,” she said. “We’ve done other projects with them, and they really support the school in a great way.

Aaron Russell, director of community outreach for First United Methodist Church, said the congregation was happy to work with the school in addition to making their own contributions to hurricane relief efforts.

From the church, 40 cleaning supply buckets and 140 hygiene kits were gathered, according to Russell.

“When something like that (disaster) happens, it shakes not just us but the whole world. It’s a great opportunity as Christians to step up and help that restoration process,” he said. “We knew that was something we wanted to do. Our congregation stepped up and did a great job.”

From elementary students to regular citizens, it is important to be a considerate and helpful member of the global community.

“God cares about the world. He cares about people right here in our community in Williamsport and people on the other side of the world,” Russell said. “If God cares about them, then we need to care about them.”

The kits full of donations have been taken to a shipping center that will distribute the items to those in need.