Bunkie school club adopts Alexandria evacuation center

Jane B. Jones, Van Osdell, Mary Ann, Shipp, Jim  |  3/4/2009 1:41:32 AM

Jane Jones, extension agent, left, and Jim Shipp, extension associate, are storing supplies for use by school children the next time there's an evacuation. (Photo by Mary Ann Van Osdell) (Click on image for larger photo.)

News Release Distributed 03/03/09

Right after Hurricane Gustav, a service club at a Bunkie school decided to help provide activities for the school children of families evacuated to the Louisiana Emergency Shelter located at the LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research and Extension Station in Alexandria.

The Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Club at the Louisiana School for Agricultural Sciences ended up getting the whole school involved in collecting toys and supplies and raising money for supplies for future evacuations, according to Jane Jones, LSU AgCenter extension agent in Rapides Parish, who was involved with providing emergency help at the shelter.

“The school wanted to help, and they wanted to know what to do,” Jones said. “They ended up providing a valuable service.”

The students developed a budget and timeline and cooperated with other agencies, including the Avoyelles Council on Aging.

“The industrial arts class built a cabinet for storing the supplies, and the home economics class made aprons for art activities,” Jones said. “Members from the Council on Aging helped the students sew the aprons.”

The club sponsored a “Rainy Days” event in October and raised $500. Businesses donated money to sponsor a team for umbrella relay races and water balloon tosses and were recognized on a mural at the school, according to Debbie Bain, the school’s principal.

The club also hosted a bingo game at the school. Admittance involved donating a toy for the shelter.

Located just south of the LSU-Alexandria campus, the $26 million climate-controlled shelter provides refuge for evacuees. The 230,000-square-foot facility accommodated 3,027 Gustav evacuees, 1,000 response personnel, hundreds of volunteers, 495 ambulances and 75 support vehicles. Eight hundred of the evacuees were children, according to Jim Shipp, LSU AgCenter extension associate at the Dean Lee Station and the evacuation center manager.

In December, 26 members of the club visited the shelter for a tour and to present the money and supplies they had collected.

“For some students, this was the biggest building they’d seen in their lives,” Bain said.

“We were amazed at the size of the shelter,” said Paige Guillot, a club member.

“We are really proud of ourselves for making a contribution, helping people in need,” said Laura Saucier, another club member.

The toys and supplies collected will be stored in the student-built cabinet built, which is housed in the evacuation shelter, Jones said. Also, she is making plans to spend the money on additional items for children’s activities.

The club plans to continue its work in providing supplies and to assist with children’s activities during the next evacuation.

In addition, the Art Club at Alexandria Senior High School has decided to get involved in designing the activity center and gathering art supplies for use by school children at the shelter, Jones said.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

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