EDINBURG — As fans celebrated the return of Friday night high school football, the thousands affected by Hurricane Harvey were also in their thoughts as school districts across the Rio Grande Valley collected donations for the storm survivors.
The school districts asked for the public’s assistance in donating items, such as toiletries, clothes and shoes for children and adults, non-perishable foods, water bottles, hygiene products and monetary donations for the victims along the Gulf Coast. The Edinburg school district offered a ticket to Friday’s game in exchange for a donation, while McAllen ISD hosted a Fill the Bus initiative and Weslaco ISD held a Cash or Cans fundraiser.
Edinburg Superintendent René Gutiérrez began the Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort initiative with the American Red Cross on Monday and throughout the week the district asked for donations from educators and students, with the final effort coming during Friday’s game.
“We want to do our part as a school district to help the community from that area from the floods that were impacted from the Hurricane Harvey,” Gutiérrez said. “The campuses and the departments from ECISD have been phenomenal. The response by the parents, the students and the staff has been really great. They’ve been able to bring in lots of supplies and materials.”
The items were collected from the 43 schools within the district and were placed in semi-trailers to be taken to the American Red Cross in Harlingen and distributed to those affected by next week.
“Things we take for granted are really in much need. For example, clothing, pillows, just things that we don’t think about,” Gutierrez added. “They don’t have anything right now and there are thousands of people that need those essentials.”
Danella Hughes, American Red Cross executive director for South Texas, said it is the priority and mission of the organization to alleviate human suffering during disasters.
“We do mass sheltering, mass care, mass feeding. That’s why all these financial donations and food donations are important. Since Houston is underwater, they’re going to have a lot of water shortages, food shortages and business are not going to be open for a long time,” Hughes said. “Water is our main priority right now as they (Gulf Coast residents) will not see clean water for days.”
Edinburg resident Mauricio Garcia heard about the donation drop-off through a sibling that attends Lincoln Elementary School.
“We could build a better community to help each other out because we’re all family,” Garcia said.
The McAllen school district, which has become a “sister district” with the Aransas County school district, plans to continue taking collections at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium during the upcoming varsity games including McAllen High vs. PSJA Memorial High on Thursday, Sept. 7, and James “Nikki” Rowe vs. Mercedes on Friday, Sept. 8. Donations are also being collected at the district’s campuses.