Community Organizes Drive for Hurricane Victims

Walpole High School students are holding donation drives to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and Texas. Special educator Courtney Nottebart placed donation bins for Puerto Rican victims in the main lobby and in front of her classroom, room 1136. To support Houston families, senior Ellen Irmiter placed a bin for diapers in the main lobby. Irmiter will package and send diapers to Texas throughout October.

“There are so many parents who have been displaced and have nothing, but they have young children who really need diapers. I was particularly motivated by a story of a woman who drowned, but her child survived by clinging to her,” Irmiter said.

Nottebart will send the first donation package to the organization United for Puerto Rico on Oct. 7. Donatable items include toiletries, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, toothbrushes/toothpaste, towels, diapers, wipes, pet food, canned food and water.

“My best friend has family in Puerto Rico and seeing his desperation at not being able to do much was really upsetting,” Nottebart said. “He works for the Boston Fire Department and mentioned that supplies were much needed and that he would be organizing a drive to ship them down to the island. After talking with Carlos, we decided that we could try and do something here at Walpole since a number of students have family who are impacted.”

Senior Carlos Vega and junior Ernesto Maldonado planned the donation drive to assist Hurricane Maria victims. Vega and Maldonado’s grandparents live in different areas of Puerto Rico and the students wanted to help their families on the island.

“I traveled there to visit my family in the summer of 2016,” said Vega. “The island is beautiful and special to me, and I wanted to do something to help the people and my family still there.” Walpole students and faculty publicized the aid efforts by word of mouth. Nottebart also reached out to nurse Rachel Jackson and started to spread the word on social media.

“It’s been pretty amazing to see the response of the high school and Walpole community,” Nottebart said.

Students who wish to help with the diaper drive can donate diapers, reach out to National Honor Society members, or email Irmiter at irmitere18@wpsma.org for specific directions. Students who wish to help with Nottebart’s drive can place donation items into either of
the bins, or speak to her in room 1136.

“No amount of goodness is too small,” said Nottebart. “I want my students to know they can always help each other in times of need. We have to be in this life together, I think there is a lot of value in learning that.”

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