"We knew that money and clothing would be a necessity," Klein School Principal Robert Tholen said. "We just started talking about what we could do."
So Tholen and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Penna wrote a letter to the parents of the Klein School students, explaining that they were going to begin a fundraising campaign to help the victims of the killer storm.
"We knew that we had to act fast," Tholen said. "So we put in a timeline of two weeks. We would try to collect as much money as we could in two weeks, all coming from individual donations from the teachers and staff, from the parents and from the kids themselves."
So with some direction, the children of Klein School went to work to collect every single penny they could to help those in need.
"When I saw those people on the news lose everything, like their family photos and valuables, I knew I wanted to do something," said sixth grader Robert Garcia. "I wanted to give as much as I could. I tried to collect as much as possible. I even gave my allowance. Those people lost everything. They needed our help."
"I felt so upset when I watched the news and saw what was going on down there," said fellow sixth grader Apolonia Guerrero. "I felt so bad for the people, losing family members, losing their homes and everything they owned. I didn't know what to do or how to react, but I knew we had to do something. I wanted to try my best to help."
So the collections began. Some of the students brought in their piggy banks to be included in the donations. "That's when you really get touched, when you see the kids have so much compassion to bring in money they had been saving for a long time," Tholen said. "Several kids brought in their piggy banks. It really was something to see."
In their hearts, Tholen and Penna set a goal of $1,000.
"We knew it wasn't going to be a lot of money," Penna said. "But it was going to be something. It was a community event."
After all the pennies and nickels were collected and the two weeks were up last Friday, the Klein School collection fund exceeded all expectations. They raised a total of $2,513, which was equally donated to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The students and the administrations made a presentation of the checks to Board of Education President Barbara Criscione early last week.
"This was far and beyond anything we could have hoped for," Penna said. "The kids wanted to do something, and they went out and collected the money. It shows the kindness and generosity of our children, as well as the Klein School family. I'm very proud of these kids. It's not a lot of money on the grand scale, but to these kids, they did a lot. It was a collaborative effort."
Garcia was proud of his school's efforts to help.
"Maybe the money we raised will help them buy medicine or get help," Garcia said. "I'm happy in that way, that we were able to do something."
"I wanted to do whatever I could to help," Guerrero said. "I gave eight dollars that I saved and my Mom gave $100. It feels really good to be able to do something. We wanted to give money, clothes or food. Now, we know our money will go to help those people in need."
Last Tuesday, Penna and Tholen scripted another letter that went out to the parents of the Klein School students, thanking them for their support in the collection drive.
"Everyone really chipped in," Tholen said. "It was nice to see."