Teacher Dave Boteler and his collection team at Reservoir High School in Fulton are no longer accepting donations for victims of Hurricane Harvey after filling two 26-foot U-Hauls, which will be driven to Houston after school today.
Physical education and health teacher Jason Conley and his friend, Ed Carpenetti, will join Boteler and his sister, Laura, who will depart from the high school for a weekend trip to the Texas town to share the donations with those in need.
Boteler said the first U-Haul will be taken to the Delmar Fieldhouse, the Houston Independent School District’s collection site, and the second truck will bring supplies to Small Steps Nurturing Center and Impact Church of Christ for distribution in their communities.
Donations began piling up inside the school’s weight room last week even before the scheduled drop-offs. On Sept. 6, the first designated drop-off day, dozens of faculty, staff, parents and students helped Boteler load boxes onto one of two 26-foot U-Haul trucks; the truck was filled to capacity within an hour.
Along the walls of the room, volunteers organized donations by categories, including baby items, clothing, pet food, food and drinks, toys, cleaning supplies and toiletries.
Twelfth-grader Jungwoo Yang, 16, said she was amazed by the community’s support to help the people who are suffering after the devastating Hurricane Harvey.
“I did not expect this,” Yang said. “I think it’ll help a lot and I’m glad so many people care and want to help out. We’re one country and we work toughener and help each other out.”
Yang’s classmate, Eric Jennings, 17, said he originally heard only one truck was going to carry donations, but he was glad Boteler rented another to avoid turning away the heaps of supplies.
“They definitely need it and we have a lot of stuff to give,” Jennings said. “We’re definitely going to need a lot more than one truck. It’s a really great turnout.”
Wearing an orange bandanna, Boteler stood nearby and unloaded cases of water from a palate, which was then stocked away on another U-Haul. Boteler said it was hard for him to put into words how it felt to see the community come together.
“It’s very humbling more than anything to see what the people of Howard County are willing to do for people they don’t even know who they know are struggling and hurting,” he said. “It’s very heart warming and I get goosebumps thinking about it.”
Principal Nelda Sims said she was excited about the outpouring of donations coming to Reservoir High, even from families who do not have children in the school system.
“What it says about Howard County, the community as a whole and Reservoir is that we are a giving community and we’re a caring community,” Sims said. “We look at this whole situation as, ‘What can we do to help?’ and if it had been us, we hope someone would do the same thing for us.”