Owings Mills preschool comes to the aid of a Houston school ravaged by Hurricane Harvey

Felicia Minnix, assistant director at The Goddard School, a preschool in Owings Mills, was searching for some way to help those dealing with the post-Hurricane Harvey aftermath in Houston. Goddard staff just couldn’t quite figure out where to begin, however.

Then one night Minnix was looking around on Facebook and discovered a group called Adopt A Classroom. Through the organization, she got her school hooked up with one in Houston that desperately needed help. Harvey had wiped out the supplies at the Vines Early Childhood Center.

Minnix and Adopt A Classroom helped Goddard get connected with a classroom in Vines that had just about nothing left. The Vines teacher and Minnix began communicating, and Goddard contacted families from its school; in a short period of time, the school collected donated supplies worth more than $2,000.

Six boxes of supplies were airmailed to Houston on Oct. 6, and Vines picked them up Oct. 13. The whole process started around the beginning of September and came together quickly.

“Once they got us matched up, the teacher [from Vines] actually emailed me and said they would take just about anything,” Minnix said. “As a teacher, your goal is to help children learn about giving back and helping each other. To see something like this, helping the children, definitely melts your heart.”

Goddard began disseminating information to families at its back-to-school night and kept doing more of the same in the following days.

Minnix said staff repeatedly distributed fliers, sent out email reminders and identified boxes where supplies could be placed. Also, Goddard sent a $500 Amazon gift card that had been donated, which helped purchase two iPad minis for the Vines classroom.

In addition, Minnix said the Houston school received plenty of games, books and puzzles. Goddard had a contact with Southwest Airlines — the husband of educator director Lisa Dickinson — who helped connect with airline staff to ensure that everything would be shipped at no cost.

Dickinson liked that the Goddard children were able to participate in something so worthwhile, especially because it involved helping other kids.

“I think it’s really important that we start at an early age teaching the children to be good citizens and good humanitarians,” Dickinson said. “They’re helping children their age. The children saw these floodwaters and the rain, and they’re aware of that. They know people were affected by that.”

Those at this Houston pre-kindergarten center were ecstatic to receive the supplies — especially from a group of people they didn’t know.

That’s why Friday the 13th proved a good day for the children in Claudia Alvarado’s class at Vines who were left without supplies in the wake of the hurricane.

“My kids were so excited, and it means a lot,” Alvarado, a bilingual teacher, said from Houston. “That has never happened before. There were a lot of school supplies, like paper, glue, pencils, markers, crayons, two iPads — they’ll be able to play more of the time now.”

Alvarado said she and her students were truly touched by Goddard’s gifts.

“It means a lot; you have no idea,” she said. “It means a lot because those are people who didn’t even know us but they were able to help us.”

Alvarado now wants to show her children the right thing to do upon receiving a big present — writing notes of gratitude.

Plans call for a large banner saying “thank you” to be prominent in a photo with the supplies Goddard sent to Houston. In addition, the 19 children in her class are working on individual thank-you notes for their new friends in Owings Mills.

Minnix said she would love to remain in touch with Alvarado. In fact, the Goddard pre-kindergarten children sent their own cards along with the six boxes of supplies.

“We just wanted to show them they’re not alone,” Minnix said.

The Goddard kids have grasped that message. Dickinson was touched by something one of the students said during the project.

“You know, Miss Lisa, I saw on the news that these people were sad, and I hope this makes them happy,” the child told Dickinson.

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