Evacuated Students Fit Right In

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One of the most important elements of a good education is having the right supplies. Many of the children who evacuated for Hurricane Katrina left their school supplies behind.

Thanks to the non-profit 'Children of the Village Network' and Judge Tammy Montgomery of Sumter County District Court, many of these children were able to stock up on their pencils and erasers. Kids were given everything on their supply list as well as an extra school shirt for their uniforms.

"Children need something to make them feel at home, put some normalcy back into their lives," said Judge Tammy Montgomery. "And school is just the starting point for that. Children are just sponges and they want to learn and we wanted to give them those supplies so they would ease into our school system."

And so far, that's exactly what they're doing. York West End Junior High principal Russell Smart said the transition has been smooth on all sides, from the administration all the way down to the students.

"They fit right in," said Smart. "And I think it's because of all the coverage. You know, it was on TV. The students pretty much knew what was happening, so they welcomed the kids in real well."

And for many of these children, that's what is needed the most, to be welcomed and to be told that things are going to be all right.

"I think that's the biggest thing that we can give them right now, is to reassure them that things are going to get better," said Sumter County School Superintendent Dr. Fred Primm.

Donations for this relief effort have come from both corporate and individual sponsors. Judge Montgomery says the calls are still coming in.

And here in Meridian, Miss., there’s more help for school kids. Parkview Elementary School got a special delivery Friday, all the way from Stokes County, North Carolina.

Robert Nickell and his wife Joanne said when they heard about the many evacuee children enrolling in Meridian schools, they knew those kids were going to need supplies. They called a few schools in their community to organize a supply drive.

"Just in two days they put this together," said Robert Nickell. "Stuffed about 40 book bags with school supplies and then we had tons and tons of school supplies in bags and boxes that we just loaded on the truck and drove down here."

"This is from a little boy named Blake: 'Dear Hurricane Victims, I hope you are okay. I'm sorry for the hurricane went through your house. I hope you can swim. I hope your kids find more friends and I hope you find food," said Joanne Nickell, as she read from a card made by a North Carolina Elementary student.

The Nickells also brought food, water and paper products which they donated to the American Red Cross.