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The clink of coins sounded in classrooms at Green Run Elementary School Monday morning as students banded together for a change drive to support students uprooted by Hurricane Matthew.
Monday it was pennies. Tuesday it will be nickles. By Friday, students plan to bring in cash donations.
The goal is to raise $500, which will be used to buy gift cards for the families of 48 students who were displaced from their homes during the storm and are now living in hotels, said Green Run Principal Sheila Wynn.
Those kids make up 11 percent of the school’s 424-student population, and come from Waypoint at Lynnhaven, a Green Run apartment complex that was severely flooded during the storm.
“These are the faces of Green Run, right here, right now,” Wynn said.
Hurricane Matthew hit Virginia Beach on Oct. 8, bringing as much as 17 inches of rain to areas of Hampton Roads. More than 1,300 Virginia Beach homes were affected during the storm, and 107 city families are currently displaced and living in hotels, according to a letter sent to President Barack Obama last week, penned by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Thirty-five of those families have children at Green Run Elementary School, Wynn said.
The coin drive is part of the school’s ongoing effort to support Green Run families affected by Hurricane Matthew, said school spokeswoman Jennifer Schmidt. Schmidt also leads the school’s safety patrol officers, a group of 15 fourth- and fifth-graders who are trained by the Virginia Beach Police Department to monitor the halls.
Usually safety patrol officers usher students into single-file lines and tell them to slow their roll while walking in the hallway. This week, however, they are spending their mornings collecting coins and encouraging students to lend each other a helping hand.
“We asked (the safety patrol officers) ‘How many of you know someone who isn’t in their home?’ More than half the safety patrols raised their hands,” Schmidt said.
“Our children were aware of the challenges,” Wynn added.
Other Green Run efforts included a donation of school supplies, food, clothing and bedding to students and families displaced by the hurricane. Last Friday, the school’s reading team also provided students with backpacks full of books to take home in an effort to help them rebuild their personal libraries.
“We just want to support our families no matter how we can,” Wynn said. “We want these memories to be special for our children even though these are challenging times that they live in. Once they hit the doors at Green Run Elementary School we want life to be the same… Nothing here changes.”
Mayfield can be reached at 352-431-9612.