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Winfield-Mt. Union Elementary Collects $3,025 for Puerto Rico School

Posted: Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017 at 6:28 am
Author: KCII News - Sam McIntosh

The Winfield-Mt. Union community raised $3,025 for those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Gabe Wylder.

When the Winfield-Mt. Union Elementary School started their month-long fundraiser to collect money for Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria, teacher Barb Phelps thought it would be great to raise $500.

The school surpassed that goal within the first week, and at an assembly Monday Principal Gabe Wylder revealed a check for $3,025. Wylder is from Puerto Rico and still has family recovering from the storm in San Lorenzo.

Phelps shares how the fundraiser was conceived, “The day after Hurricane Maria hit we were in a meeting with Mr. Wylder about other school things and we could tell that Mr. Wylder was hurting tremendously. So we talked a little bit about that with him and we left thinking, we need to do something as a school. It’s one thing to hurt with somebody who hurts, but it’s another thing to do something about that. So we came up with as a staff, we want to just see our students get involved and figure out how does community help one another. When somebody hurts we hurt with them and what do you do about that.”

As students and community members brought in donations teachers encouraged kids to write letters to Wylder and his family. Teacher Jessica Carter describes the effect this fundraiser had on students, “I’ve had students asking every single day about Mr. Wylder’s family and how they’re doing, what are things like in Puerto Rico. So it was on the front of their minds and they were definitely wanting to do what they could.”

Winfield-Mt. Union sent the money to Luis Muñoz Rivera School in San Lorenzo, which is being used a shelter and will not reopen for students until it is recertified for safety standards. Wylder looks forward to how this can benefit both schools, “We’re also in this partnership where we are developing our own worldview, increasing our empathy and how there are other people that we should be thoughtful about and care about, and I would think that they would feel very similarly. They’re thankful for the support and the financial gifts that they’re getting, but I don’t think they want to feel like this is a burden type of relationship. We have just as much to gain in this type of relationship from them.”

Pen pals, Skype sessions, and field trips are ideas the Winfield-Mt. Union Elementary staff are brainstorming on how they want to deepen their connection to Puerto Rico and the students still waiting to return to school.

Principal Gabe Wylder hosted an assembly for Winfield-Mt. Union to talk about the devastation faced in Puerto Rico and celebrate the students’ fundraising efforts. Photo by Sam McIntosh.