By Misty DUPLESSIS
During an American Red Cross blood drive, Mountain Avenue Elementary School teacher Denise Bottomley donated blood, then brought back to her class a lesson in humanity.
While donating, Bottomley heard stories about the recent devastating Oklahoma tornadoes and shared with her fourth and fifth grade split class how the Red Cross workers are providing shelter, food, relief supplies, emotional support and recovery assistance throughout the affected areas.
The students were quick in wanting to provide comfort in the stricken areas in the form of “thank you” letters to the American Red Cross workers.
“Here we are in California, but we’re still thinking about them and our thoughts are with them, especially the families and the lives that were affected. So that’s how it started,” Bottomley said. “When I asked the kids if they’d be interested [in writing letters], they jumped all over it,”
On May 23, the class sent hand written letters to the Red Cross to show their gratitude by thanking the countless volunteers for their efforts during these troubling times.
Once the letters were received by Red Cross representatives, they were distributed to the five shelters set up throughout the state to help the victims.
Fifth grade student Vienna Hawes was excited to send the letters to the people who were directly involved with providing comfort to those whose lives were forever changed by the catastrophic events.
“Since I heard about the Oklahoma tornadoes, I thought it was a really good idea that we wrote letters and it made me feel better that our letters would go to somebody who helps people whose lives were ruined,” Hawes said.
Fourth graders Miles Wockenfuss and Nicole Arzoomanian agreed that it takes a special person to give their time to help others.
“When you think about it, most people are just helping out and they’re not getting paid – they’re just helping,” Wockenfuss said.
“I think that it takes a lot of courage and bravery to go out there and help everybody during tornadoes. Even if they don’t get paid for it, they just do it from the bottom of their heart,” said Arzoomanian who wrote similar kind words in her letter to the volunteers.
The thoughtful acts of the Red Cross volunteers inspired these local students and student Ethan Hosford hopes that the good deeds just keep going around and around.
“I think our letters inspired more people to help volunteer to help in the Red Cross and to help other people,” said fifth grader Hosford.
Yesterday, Bottomley received an email from Kevin Self, the asst. city/emergency manager of Newcastle, Okla. He thanked the teacher and students for the letters.
“It has been a very busy time for us here in Newcastle as well as many other locations throughout Oklahoma,” Self wrote. “The disasters such as the one that occurred on May 20th are always very difficult to manage, but through cooperation, support, and the encouragement offered in your students’ letters, we here in Oklahoma always find a way to overcome and stand strong together.”