Lending a hand

Hunt, Southern Nash among the schools helping

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With Nash and Wilson counties largely spared from the impact of Hurricane Florence’s visit here last week, people are looking for ways to help those in need in areas of the state that were less fortunate after the storm caused widespread flooding.

Count Hunt and Southern Nash high schools among those leading efforts to provide relief to their fellow schools in storm-ravaged areas. Southern Nash, which was to have played a varsity football game at White Oak High in Jacksonville on Friday, is conducting a drive for supplies to benefit White Oak. Hunt students are rounding up supplies that will be delivered to Carteret County shelters.

Robbie and Crystal Kennedy, who are both teachers at Southern Nash High, initiated the effort there.

“We were just sitting at home wishing that we could go and do something — volunteer or something. But it was kind of impossible with school,” said Robbie Kennedy, who is the athletic director at Southern Nash. “She said, ‘Why don’t we collect donations?’ And I said we should do it for White Oak since that’s who we were going to play.”

Kennedy, who is also the Firebirds varsity boys basketball coach and football assistant coach, said that he reached out to Chris Grimes, the athletic director and boys basketball coach at Jacksonville White Oak. 

“We figured out that could be something we could do for them since we were lucky that we didn’t have flooding or damage. So that was kind of the idea,” Kennedy said. “We talked about it to our principal, Mr. (Hugh) Scott, and he was good with it. We asked all of our coaches to get every team member to donate at least one thing, so that would be around 200 items.”

Crystal Kennedy, a science teacher and head athletic trainer at Southern Nash, is spearheading the collection effort of items such as cleaning supplies, trash bags, school supplies, bottled water, toiletries, paper towels, towels and sheets. 

The effort extends to spectators at upcoming Southern Nash athletic events, Kennedy said, who will be admitted free if they bring three items on the list. The drive will extend through Friday, Sept. 28.

“We’ll try to take up until next weekend and then try to figure out a way to get it to them. We may take it there ourselves,” Robbie Kennedy said.

At Hunt, the idea to help came from the school’s yearbook coordinator, Virginia Shreve, said Hunt athletic director Jon Smith.

“Hunt has a good history of helping out people, from Headbands of Hope to a lot of different organizations,” he said. “But Mrs. Shreve, who is our yearbook coordinator, sent an email out fairly early in the process and, so instead of competing with what she’s doing, we decided to make it all one big school-wide effort. 

Hunt teachers and students are collecting snacks, toiletries and other hygiene products to donate by Friday, Sept. 21.

Smith said that this effort likely won’t be the only one done by Hunt to help hurricane victims.

“Once this is over, we’ll probably do something else. I know in the past our booster club fed emergency workers at Mojo Grill after Hurricane Matthew,” he said. “This time it’ll go to Carteret County but I’m sure we’re going to do something else for some schools in areas that were hit pretty bad.”

Greene Central, which is playing its scheduled varsity football game Friday at Washington, is also helping with relief efforts. Greene Central athletic director David Bryant texted Wednesday morning that fans attending the game can get in for free if they bring four items each of cleaning supplies, trash bags, schools supplies, bottled water and toiletries. The donation will go to benefit schools in Lenoir and Craven counties who are part of the same 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference.

Robbie Kennedy, who grew up in Lucama, noted that smaller communities, often go overlooked in natural disasters and he’s well aware that this area was extremely lucky this time around.

“You see stuff on TV and the internet and you want to do something to help out, but you really can’t go because you’ve got a job and we couldn’t get there,” he said. “So the next best thing was to help (White Oak) out because we were supposed to play them. We thought that would be a good idea so that’s what we went with.”