Feb 21, 2018

Pickerington for Puerto Rico, Supply Drive to Help Rebuild Schools

Amy Palmer's first-grade class asking questions about Puerto Rico

First-grade students at Heritage Elementary are combining their learning with service and taking action to help kids just like them.

Last September, hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico. Now, six months later, schools, neighborhoods, rural areas, and the rest of the U.S. territory are still trying to recover from the devastating storms. Amy Palmer and her class of first-grade students at Heritage Elementary decided they wanted to do something to help recovering students and schools.

“This project really grew from the kids wanting to help others who are in need,” said Palmer. “We talked about things that make us sad, and ways we could help heal our broken hearts, which was right around the time of Hurricane Maria.”

Palmer’s classroom teamed up with other students across the district, including Diley sixth grade-students and Pickerington High School Central students in the Service Learning class, to learn more about the culture and environment in Puerto Rico.

Since the service learning project began, Palmer has focused on making ties to the curriculum with hands-on learning. Students have been conducting research and learning about environmental change due to natural disasters, solar panel energy, wants/needs, and supply/demand.

In December, Palmer’s class had the opportunity to speak via video chat with Yamil Jaskille, an attorney in Puerto Rico, and learn about the disastrous hurricane and his experience of living through it.

Jaskille described the circumstances days after the storm when no one had power. “Because everything was so dark, the government made a curfew,” he said. At 6 p.m. people were forced to go home and to get off the streets for safety. But because many people needed diesel to run their generators, they would stay the night at gas stations to be first in line to fill up the next morning.

“We were running low on fuel, and low on food,” Jaskille explained. All supplies were limited because the extreme flooding prevented employees from leaving their homes to pick up necessities coming from Florida.

Without electricity, hospitals closed down and patients were forced to go to other locations. Schools in Puerto Rico were no longer in session. Many buildings were destroyed by the storm or became shelters to protect people.

“People are still looking for help,” Jaskille told the students.“This is one of the largest and most catastrophic environmental situations in recent United States history.”

When they heard so many schools had been destroyed, Palmer and her students began searching for ways to help. Their learning and research led them to adopt a school in Puerto Rico and conduct a district-wide supply drive to collect materials to help rebuild the school and continue learning.

“The students have been so excited to be able to make a difference for other kids like them, and to see that intrinsic motivation has really been inspiring,” Palmer said.

Watch a video the students created about their service project Pickerington for Puerto Rico.

The district-wide supply drive will take place from Feb. 26-March 2. Each Pickerington building will be given a box to hold supplies. All donations will be collected at the end of the drive on March 2. All donations will be shipped directly to Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rico Department of Education has identified the supply list below as “high need.” Each day, collection items will fit into a different theme, but any donation on the list will be accepted at any time.

Monetary donations are also welcome. Please make checks payable to PLSD and indicate Pickerington for Puerto Rico in the memo. Checks can be given to building secretaries or mailed to Heritage Elementary, 100 N. East St. Pickerington, OH 43147.

Acceptable Donations:

Monday- Arts and Crafts Day: pens (blue ink), pencils, colored pencils, paints (watercolor, tempera, pastels), crayons, paper, glue, craft sticks, beads, paint brushes, scissors, stickers, dry erase markers, glitter, craft kits.

Tuesday- Backpack Day: New backpacks for kids of various sizes and ages.

Wednesday- Classroom Materials Day: rulers, composition books, notebook paper, handwriting paper, scotch tape, masking tape, staples, white out, post-its, Toshiba-Studio 352-2 toner cartridge, Sindoh M403-2 toner cartridge, Brother HL-3170 CDW toner cartridges for the following: Cyan-1, Magenta-1, Yellow-1, and Black-2.

Thursday- Science and Math Day: new or gently used calculators, Judy Clocks, math games, math counters, tangrams, geoboards, dice, rulers, unifix cubes, Legos, fraction materials, rock kits, magnets, solar system materials, compasses, volcano kits, money kits, playing cards, flash cards, project-based learning books or materials.

Friday- Book Day: new or gently used graphic novels, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Spanish/English dictionaries, history and science books, Harry Potter, CS Lewis books, Twilight, Percy Jackson, books by Charles Dickens and Mark Twain, poetry books, health and fitness books, Curious George books, picture books, alphabet books, books about the days of the week, bilingual fiction, short novels, audio books, autobiographies, plays, big books.