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Edgecombe students give back through Florence drive

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Kiley Farmborough, left, and Eniya Foreman, 11, load a truck with donations for Hurricane Florence victims Thursday at South Edgecombe Middle School in Pinetops.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Remembering how it felt to be on the receiving end of flood donations just two years ago, students in Edgecombe County Public Schools have been gathering supplies for victims of Hurricane Florence in a drive that ended on Thursday.

“We were deeply impacted during Hurricane Matthew two years ago and received an unbelievable amount of donations from all over the country. We knew this was our opportunity to give back and help our fellow North Carolinians in their time of need,” said Susan Hoke, communications coordinator for Edgecombe County Public Schools. 

All 14 schools in the district participated in the drive that focused primarily on collecting items including socks, underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hand sanitizer and bottled water. The drive began as soon as Edgecombe County Public School students returned to school following the Hurricane Florence.

The school district’s maintenance staff filled a truck with donations gathered from schools on Thursday, the same day students in New Hanover County were finally able to return to their classrooms following flooding in that area.

Hoke said the items the schools collected were chosen for a reason.

“During Hurricane Matthew, when so many of our students and their families were displaced, we found these were highly requested items,” Hoke said.

Some of the schools in the district also worked on their own initiatives related to hurricane relief. At a recent Tarboro High School junior varsity football game, fans were admitted at no charge in exchange for hurricane supplies, Hoke said.

In addition, Phillips Middle School is currently collecting new or gently used books to donate to schools affected by Florence to help replenish their libraries and classrooms.

Kim Hampton, the counselor at South Edgecombe Middle School, said the effort offered valuable learning experiences for students at her school.

“The lesson in the supply drive was giving back and learning to reach out to help others. We also wanted students to learn that even donating a small amount added up when we worked as a team. They also learned that our donations would be added to those of other Edgecombe County Public Schools and would grow even larger. We often discuss global learning, but this is a living example since we are reaching out to people we do not know, or who may be different from us, yet empathize with them because of a thing as common as weather,” Hampton said.

It seems that some of the students have taken the lesson to heart.

"It feels good to give back,” said Jarin Abrams, a seventh-grade student at South Edgecombe Middle. “People helped us when we needed help after the last hurricane." 

As for distribution of the items, Edgecombe schools is partnering with the United Way Tar River Region, which is gathering donations from area businesses and distributing them where they are most needed.  

“Even in the midst of terrible devastation following Hurricane Matthew two years ago, we saw the best in our community — folks wanting to love, serve, and support others. We are seeing this same spirit following Hurricane Florence,” Hoke said.

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