October 24, 2017
Hurricane Harvey brought devastation to Texas’s Oleson Elementary community, so the Atholton Student Leadership Cadre (SLC) is organizing an ongoing school-wide movement to raise funds and materials, aiming to aid in the school and its surrounding community’s recovery process.
Oleson is more than just a school. It is a center that many of Oleson’s students depend on for food and hurricane relief. While the school building itself was not affected by the hurricane, the school serves as a valuable way to distribute resources and to help provide aid to families.
However, Oleson is running low on funds, but by raising both money and materials, Atholton is helping Oleson’s families get back on their feet.
“These people have practically lost everything and have to rebuild their homes from pretty much scratch and furnish their homes, as well,” said Guadalupe Munoz, the Principal of Oleson Elementary School.
Atholton became connected with Oleson through a friend of Ms. Nasir, the SLC advisor. Her friend is a resident of Houston, and daughter attends school in Olson Elementary’s school system.
“You’re supporting the school facility, and then you’re supporting the families outside of the school that have basic needs that need to be met,” said Ms. Nasir. Oleson Elementary School needs materials to give to its families, such as flooring and paint, and household materials like pillows, mattresses, sheets, and clothes.
Atholton’s fundraising efforts are even more urgent because Oleson cannot conduct the annual candy bar fundraiser that used to support the school.
“They usually raise about $15,000, so they won’t be able to do that,” Ms. Nasir said. “Our goal is the $15,000, whether it’s through direct funds or something indirectly
in terms of gifts or gift cards.”
To add to the already devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, Oleson qualifies as a Title I School. According to The U.S. Department of Education, a Title I School means that funds are provided to schools with “high percent-
ages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.” In short, this means that many children who attend Oleson are not financially privileged.
“The majority of our students eat free. This is the reason why we wanted to rush back to school. Many of our families depend on the school for breakfast and lunch,” Ms. Munoz said. Rebuilding after a hurricane is expensive, and the Olesen community is especially vulnerable to the struggles of this endeavor, which is why Atholton’s goal to raise $15,000 for them is crucial.
On October 17, shirts that said “AHS Supports Houston” went on sale during lunch shifts with the profits going to Oleson Elementary. The goal is for the shirts to be worn by as many people as possible during the last football game of the season on November 3.
In addition to SLC’s t-shirt fundraiser, Key Club and iEducate are supporting SLC with their own efforts. Key Club is organizing a schedule for students to sell the shirts during lunch. Furthermore, students and members of the Atholton community can buy materials on an Amazon gift registry to support Oleson. The advantage of this method is that Amazon can ship materials directly to Olesen, instead of SLC having to pay to ship materials that were collected at Atholton.
As with rebuilding, this is not a quick endeavor. SLC plans to revisit this issue about halfway through the year to show continued support for Oleson.
“When you’re rebuilding, you probably want those same type of basic needs in February as you do now,” Ms. Nasir said.
Isha Santhosh, a sophomore in SLC, is excited about helping Oleson and the positive change that Atholton can create. “I’ve always felt like there is so much going on, but I don’t have any way to help it directly. [SLC is] one way that I can be a part of a club that I’m interested in and also help people in Houston,”said Santhosh.
The enthusiasm of students like Santhosh is helping to make this project a success. Helping Oleson Elementary recover is no easy task, but it is most certainly worth it.
If this article inspired you to donate to Oleson Elementary School, bring $18 to lunch shifts until Thursday, November 2 and/or buy from the Amazon gift registry at http://a.co/4fYkklb Thank you for your support!