Community Rallies to Help Schools Hit Hardest by Tornado

Monday, Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa did not mince words about how badly some of the schools in the direct path of Sunday’s tornado were damaged, using descriptions like “total loss.”

Several schools were damaged, but three, in particular, were hard hit — Walnut Hill Elementary School, Cary Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson High School. 

Both Walnut Hill and Thomas Jefferson are being moved to new campuses, while students at Cary will attend either Medrano Middle School or Franklin Middle School, depending on where they live.

In the meantime, teachers who had spent all summer and fall creating classrooms and lesson plans are now faced with recreating them and replacing materials, and several groups are working to help offset those costs.

There are two ways to help Thomas Jefferson High School. One is through an Amazon Wish List, which allows users to choose items that will ship directly to the school’s new address.  Thomas Jefferson’s Parent, Teacher and Student Association and its alumni association have also teamed up to collect donations to help those directly impacted by this powerful storm, creating a GoFundMe campaign.

Walnut Hill’s PTA has also started a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of helping replace important supplies needed in the classroom.

“As a PTA, we feel fortunate that the district has found a way for the school body to move intact to another building and that all of the classes and staff will be able to stay together, but that transition process and the state of the school building means that the school will be starting over essentially from scratch,” the group explained.

“As of now, we are still assessing the needs of the teachers, administration, and students, and your donations will help to provide supplies for the classrooms and students, curriculum, books, anything that we are able to provide to outfit the new building and smooth this transition,” they added.

Nonprofit United to Learn routinely works with most of the schools now reporting to Loos Fieldhouse temporarily while their less-damaged schools are repaired, and they are seeking donations of basic school supplies. Those supplies can be dropped off directly at the fieldhouse, located at 3815 Spring Valley Road.

The organization is also fundraising to help with needs as well.

Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church is also collecting supplies to distribute to affected schools this week. The church, located at 9800 Preston Road, is serving as a drop-off point for paper, crayons, and other school supplies.

The district can take monetary donations, too, and those are being accepted by the Dallas Education Foundation at DallasISDTornadoReliefFund. For more information about monetary donations, call  972-925-3053.

“Dallas ISD is currently accepting gift cards, preferably in $25–$30 increments,” the district said in a press release this evening. Gift cards can be mailed to 9400 N. Central Expressway, Box 21, and for more information, call 972-925-5440.

“We are currently identifying families most in need of donations,” the press release said.

The district is also accepting small boxes of new school supplies, which can be dropped off at the three following locations Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

  • Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy, 1700 E. Camp Wisdom Road
  • Turney W. Leonard Training Center, 5151 Samuel Blvd.
  • One Center at Linus Wright Administration Building, 9400 N. Central Expressway, first floor

To volunteer, the district recommends registering online first and then contacting Partnership and Volunteer services at 972-925-5440 or [email protected].

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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