Students rally to help Rowlett tornado victims


Touched by the news coverage of the destruction wrought by recent tornadoes, Cathy Vernon was overcome with the need to do something to help victims who had lost everything. The day after the storms, Vernon, the student activities coordinator and student council sponsor at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, began calling her students and the school’s PTA president to arrange a donation drive.

With school out and everyone on winter break, Vernon said she was unsure what the group could collect. Nevertheless, they put out calls to colleagues and families via social media asking for donations. By Wednesday, Dec. 30, when Vernon and the student council officers met up on campus to collect the donations, they were surprised at the response.

“We were completely overwhelmed,” Vernon said. “Parents and students started arriving in the circle drive and dropping off donations — baby diapers and formula, pet food, work boots and gloves, toiletries, and many other items.  We also received over $800 in gift cards. Our Jostens rep heard about our drive and showed up with boxes of new and packaged sweat shirts, hoodies, sweat pants and other items from Jostens.”

In short, the drive was a total success, so much so that Vernon said the team had to borrow the school trailer to haul the donations to Rowlett where they received a warm welcome.

“Everyone was so appreciative and also amazed that teenagers would show up on their vacation,” she said.

Since this week’s reopening of school, Vernon said she’s received dozens of contacts from other students and colleagues who also want to help out so plans are in the works for another drive in the next few weeks. Persons who want to support the effort are asked to consider donating gift cards or toiletries. Vernon can be contacted at

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