Wildcats work to help victims of Hurricane Michael

Kayla R., left, and Summer H., right, worked to collect stuffed animals to comfort children who lost their belongings when Hurricane Michael hit. They also sold cookies for donations to send to help hurricane victims; and, opened a fund for donations. All funds and stuffed animals will be delivered via the Red Cross to the affected areas.
Kayla R., left, and Summer H., right, worked to collect stuffed animals to comfort children who lost their belongings when Hurricane Michael hit. They also sold cookies for donations to send to help hurricane victims; and, opened a fund for donations. All funds and stuffed animals will be delivered via the Red Cross to the affected areas.
Kayla R., left, and Summer H., right, worked to collect stuffed animals to comfort children who lost their belongings when Hurricane Michael hit. They also sold cookies for donations to send to help hurricane victims; and, opened a fund for donations. All funds and stuffed animals will be delivered via the Red Cross to the affected areas.
Kayla R., left, and Summer H., right, worked to collect stuffed animals to comfort children who lost their belongings when Hurricane Michael hit. They also sold cookies for donations to send to help hurricane victims; and, opened a fund for donations. All funds and stuffed animals will be delivered via the Red Cross to the affected areas.
After Hurricane Michael hit Florida, two students from Lake Wilderness Elementary felt like they had to do something to help.

“It destroyed a lot of houses, and all their stuff was destroyed and gone,” said Kayla R., who watched news coverage of the storm destruction on TV.

Summer H., said she and her mom talked about what was happening to people on the east coast, and that she was inspired by a friend who did something to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
“I just wanted to help pay for the damage,” Summer said, noting that their original idea was to ask friends to donate stuffed animals and sell them in order to give the profits to those in need. Then, they came up with the idea to take donations of new and used stuffed animals to send to children affected by the hurricane. Two other parts of the effort developed: Their moms helped them set up a “Helpers of Hurricane Michael” fundraiser on Crowdrise, which has collected $380 of their $1,000 goal. The money will benefit the American Red Cross for victims of the hurricane.

And, they decided to bake cookies to sell, with profits going to the same collection. Two other friends, Brooklynn K. and Saidey H., also helped. The group spent eight hours baking four varieties of treats, for a total of 270 cookies. The girls created collection bins that local businesses such as Bartell Drugs and Grocery Outlet hosted.

“I am so incredibly proud of the leadership of Summer and Kayla,” said Lake Wilderness Principal Audrey Meyers, Ph.D. “They are the perfect example of the Community Contributor Future Ready skill that we promote during the month of October. Although they did this with complete altruism and no expectation for public recognition, this is something that should be noticed.”

“Often it just takes one small act of kindness that can make so much change for both our small community and out in the world,” Meyers said. “We are so lucky to have them at our school showing us all what it means to be kind.”

Courtesy photo Kayla, left, and Summer covered in donated stuffed animals.
Courtesy photo.
Kayla, left, and Summer covered in donated stuffed animals.
When delivering cookies and picking up stuffed animal donations from families in the community, Summer said she was particularly touched by one young boy who made his own card and bought a stuffed animal to donate using money from his piggy bank.

Summer and Kayla are already anticipating how kids might react when they receive a new stuffed animal to replace those that were ruined or lost in the storm.

“They will feel loved,” Summer said.

Kayla agreed: “They will feel so grateful. … All the way from Florida to Washington, they will know two little girls thought about them.”

Community members donated eight garbage bags full of gently used and new stuffed animals. Now, the only problem is that shipping the donations to Florida will cost about $200, something the 10-year-old organizers didn’t anticipate. The Red Cross doesn’t currently have funds available to pay for shipping, said Summer’s mom, Robin. Those who would like to donate toward the shipping costs may do so via Paypal. Connect with Kayla’s mom, Missy, at missykg@comcast.net to help out. Any leftover money will be donated to the “Helpers of Hurricane Michael” fund for the Red Cross efforts in Florida.