HUMC organizes backpack donation to hurricane-ravaged school

Jodie Zoellner is the brainchild behind the plan to provide backpacks to students at Potter Street Elementary in Bainbridge, Ga. that was damaged by Hurricane Michael in October earlier this year. Zoellner, along with Mike Bryson, traveled to Georgia on Friday, Dec. 14 to deliver the backpacks and other badly needed school supplies.

Jodie Zoellner passes out backpacks to Potter Street Elementary students in Bainbridge, Ga., on Dec. 14 to aid in the recovery from being hit by Hurricane Michael.

The trucks were loaded at Highlands United Methodist Church on Dec. 3 before heading south after Winter-Storm Diego hit the Plateau beginning on Dec. 8.

Potter Street Elementary is a pre-K through 4th-grade school. April Aldridge, assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum and instruction, was Zoellner’s first-contact person right after the hurricane.

Jodie Zoellner, Mike Bryson and some of the Potter Street Elementary teachers.

“When we arrived last Friday, April and the Superintendent Tim Cochran were there to help us unload,” said Zoellner. “The faculty and staff were most appreciative. To say the students were excited would be an understatement. They were full of big smiles and lots of hugs given out.”

Zoellner added that many of the students and teachers were dressed in their pajamas as they were watching the Polar Express.

Jodie Zoellner and Mike Bryson unload the truck with the help of Potter Street Elem. employees.

“One particular teacher came back out when we had finished handing out the backpacks to thank me again and gave me such a hug and said, ‘you just don’t know how much this means to all of us.’ Walking around the school before we left, we got to see many classes going through the backpacks, putting names on their things.”

Some of the damage to Potter Street Elementary.

HUMC Director of Children and Youth Ministries Christine Murphy said they sent hundreds of backpacks and other supplies down to the hurricane-damaged school.

“We sent down 320 filled backpacks, which meant every student kindergarten through 4th grade got a new backpack,” said Murphy. “And we sent down 35 teacher boxes, which meant every teacher got a box filled with teaching supplies. We also had a few former teachers clean out their storage rooms and they sent down a bunch of teaching supplies like games, rugs, curriculum books, etc.”

Article by Brian O’Shea
Photos courtesy of Highlands United Methodist Church
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