**Update July 8. Wow, the support for this little project continues to overwhelm me in the best possible way. New stuff in italics, as always:
- Thanks to reader Margaret for this awesome idea – it’s like Operation Christmas Child, but for teachers! Sign up to fill a shoebox for a teacher!
- Susanne received her first donation over the weekend, left on her front porch stealth-ninja style! All of this from just one generous person:
- If and you live in the greater Vancouver metro area, and are willing to deliver your donation to Delta,the amazing and generous Jan Kwasnicki is planning to load up her truck (and a trailer if necessary) and haul a load of supplies to High River in late August. You can read about her plans here, and contact her to make arrangements. Thank you, Jan – you are an angel.
- In the comments below, Meredith in Ontario mentioned the possibility of teachers donating the gift cards that they received as year-end gifts – what an easy and brilliant idea! You can e-mail Susanne at firstname.lastname@example.org to get her mailing address if this is an idea that works for you. (If you are outside of Canada, your gift cards may not be valid here. Please check with the company before sending them.)
- To get a really good visual of the extent of the flooding, you can see a couple of photos on the Chapters Adopt-A-School page. (they are below the map). Fair warning: they make my heart hurt every time I look at them. Imagine YOUR school, up past the window sills, in muddy water…
- Please, PLEASE continue to spread the word. With it being summertime, people may not be checking e-mail/Facebook/Twitter as often as they normally do, and so occasionally repeating yourself may be a good idea. If you have a blog, feel free to write a short post with a link to send your readers over here. If you know a business who may be able to help, send them my way, too!
- And finally: thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are all amazing, and I am so blessed to be able to be a part of this generosity. Thank you.
*Updated, July 5: WOW! Thank you so much for the response on this. Please keep spreading the word. I knew I knew the best helpers out there! A few notes:
- A few of you have mentioned that you have had trouble with the links to contact Susanne. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. If clicking the e-mail address doesn’t work, you should be able to just copy-paste it into your e-mail program. Thank you SO MUCH for wanting to help!
- There have been a few updates to the ways that you can help. I have added them in italics below. Huge thanks to Chapters/Indigo, who have also stepped up to help with this huge project.
Ok, so. You all read my teaser post from earlier today. If you didn’t it, I’m gonna need you to take a minute and go back and read it. Seriously. Go read it. I’ll wait.
You read it? You thought about it? Ok, let’s carry on.
As many of you know, my city and the surrounding area was devastated by flooding, just 2 weeks ago. One of the hardest hit communities was the town of High River, about an hour south of The City. The entire town was evacuated, and people were out of their homes for over a week. Some of those homes are still underwater. Many of them will be condemned as uninhabitable. The damage is… catastrophic, and makes my heart pound just writing about it.
Of course, in that town, there are schools. One of them is Holy Spirit Academy, a Catholic elementary school. The building itself has survived, but the contents… Well, all of those teachers just lost ALL of their stuff. All their tools. All their toys. All their treasures. Many of those teachers have also lost their homes. Many of those teachers will be teaching students who have lost their homes. Yeah, think about THAT for a minute.
Yesterday, through the magic of the interwebz, I got to meet Susanne Sharp, a grade one teacher at Holy Spirit. Susanne is one of the lucky ones – she doesn’t live in High River, so her house is safe and intact, and she still gets to live in it. Suzanne posted an online classified ad, hoping for help re-stocking her classroom. My favourite auntie saw her ad, forwarded it to me. At first I thought “yes! I can totally help her! I have books and toys and borders and things that I don’t need! I will give them to her!”
Now picture it… underwater.
And then, I thought… wait. If her classroom was ruined, so were other classrooms. That’s A LOT of teachers who need A LOT of stuff… And then I thought… wait! I know A LOT Of people! People who are teachers, people who have big hearts and big ideas, people who have repeatedly asked how they can help with the flood relief efforts, even from far away! An e-mail to Susanne confirmed: yes, their whole school was flooded. EVERYBODY has lost all their stuff. Yes, they need help.
And so here is what I want us to do, friends: I want us to help re-stock Susanne’s school. It is a K-6, Catholic school, with 3 or 4 classes of each grade level. The entire school does CAFE and Daily 5. In addition to the classroom “stuff,” the entire contents of the school library have been lost. The school district will deal with textbooks and furniture, but teachers will need:
- math manipulatives
- literacy supplies
- BOOKS! Lots and lots and lots of BOOKS for kids at every level
- cleaning supplies
- art supplies
- craft supplies
- classroom decor
- visual supports (calendars, anchor charts, vocabulary charts, etc etc etc)
- Storage baskets and bins
Here is what you can do:
FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT: Spread the word. Send every teacher (or teacher-supporter) you know to this post so they can help, too. Share this post on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter, re-blog it, pin it ALL OVER Pinterest, e-mail it to everyone you know who might help. Also: BOOKMARK THIS POST, because I have a feeling there could be updates on a regular basis.
FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, YOU CAN:
- MY #1 RECOMMENDATION: Buy a Scholar’s Choice Gift Card here. Scholar’s Choice stepped up to help with this effort as soon as I contacted them, and they have been amazing, positive, and so, so, helpful. Note that their gift cards come in $10 increments, so if you want to give more than $10, you need to change the quantity of cards. If you have ANY trouble ordering online, please do not hesitate to call them and do the transaction by phone, their staff are WONDERFUL. To order from Scholar’s Choice, you will need to contact Susanne first, to get her address. You can also, of course, order merchandise from Scholar’s Choice!
- The Shawnessy (Calgary) location of Chapters/Indigo has adopted Holy Spirit Academy, and is accepting online donations to replenish the school library as well as classroom libraries. You can find the Adopt-A-School page here.
- Buy a gift card, books, toys, or other good stuff from Chapters/Indigo. Chapters/Indigo gift cards can be delivered directly to Susanne via e-mail, at firstname.lastname@example.org, merchandise will need a shipping address.
- Buy an IKEA Gift card, and have it mailed to Susanne. To order from IKEA, you will need to contact Susanne first, to get her address.
- Buy a gift card, games, or toys from ToysRUs Canada. Toys R Us gift cards can be delivered directly to Susanne via e-mail at email@example.com, merchandise will need a shipping address.
IF YOU ARE IN CANADA, YOU CAN:
- Buy gift cards for: Target, Wal-Mart, or Dollarama, and mail them to Susanne (contact her for the mailing address). Alas, none of these companies do online gift card purchases, so you have to actually buy a physical card and mail it. Also: Even though these companies exist in the US, their gift cards are not transferable between countries – a Target card bought at a US Target store, or online at the US Target site, CANNOT be used in a Canadian Target store.
IF YOU HAVE OR WANT TO BUY ANY OF THE ITEMS LISTED, YOU CAN:
- Contact Susanne to get shipping & delivery information. If you’re in the area, you can deliver to her in person, or get her address to have things mailed/shipped. (I know this goes without saying, but items should be new or gently used, in very good condition.)
Susanne is willing to do all of the sorting/organizing/dividing up of supplies and donations as they arrive. Since HER SCHOOL IS UNDERWATER, she will be doing it from her home address, and she is understandably cautious about having that posted on the interwebz. I know that contacting her to get shipping/mailing information adds an extra step, but I’m sure you can understand the reasons.
Phew, ok, I think that covers it. If you think I missed anything, or if you have ANY questions at all, please let me know in the comments. I want to make sure this is as easy as possible for everyone.
Because, you guys: I really think we can do this. I really think that I know enough wonderful people, who know enough wonderful people, that we can re-stock A WHOLE SCHOOL. But I need your help. I need A LOT of help, from A LOT of you.
But it seems to me… helping is what we do best, right?
If you are part of a company or organization who may be able to help, please contact me. I would love to hear from you.