‘Dear Children of Texas…’

By Beth Donze

The sight of the 18-wheeler brimming with school supplies had already brought Marcia Stevens to tears.

But when Stevens began going through the drawings and cards of support sent by New Orleans Catholic school students to their hurricane-weary peers in the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, Stevens “lost it” – in a good way.

“The empathy that they showed – sharing their experiences of flooding in Katrina – they gave our kids hope that everything would get better,” said Stevens, Beaumont’s superintendent of Catholic Schools.

“Their notes and drawings were so encouraging and we truly appreciate the depth of thoughtfulness,” Stevens added. “It just really made a big difference for our kids!”

The donations of school supplies were solicited by the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Office of Catholic Schools via email a few days after Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. The items were picked up from the various campuses by volunteers and stored in the Office of Catholic Schools’ conference rooms before being driven to Beaumont by QCS Logistics on Sept. 22.

Boxes and backpacks filled with crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, art supplies, pens, pencils and erasers were divided among the Diocese of Beaumont’s one high school and four elementary schools.

Although three of those schools flooded, they all managed to reopen with the loss of only nine instruction days, Stevens said. The diocese waived tuition for September and October to help out families.

“The kids have been great,” Stevens said.

Still, Stevens described the current situation as “very stressed.” Many area residents, some whose homes took on nine feet of water, remain displaced. Stevens knows of one teacher who is living with 22 relatives.

“It’s gonna take time to move forward,” she said.

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