While we are still rebuilding from the wrath of Hurricane Irma here at All Saints Academy, we know that Polk County, while hit hard, didn’t get the worst of the storm. Our neighbors to the south, including Naples, Miami, and the Florida Keys, all suffered devastating loss and damage. Their rebuilding process will take months, or even years, and many people are still without their homes, their vehicles, or electricity. The plight of the Puerto Rican population following not only Irma, but also Hurricane Maria, has been making headlines as thousands of people are going without even the most basic of needs, like food, clean water, and formula or diapers for their little ones.

We believe that one of the biggest benefits of being part of such a great community, such as what we enjoy here in Polk County, is the ability to give back in a big way when times like this come about. Even as we rebuild here in our own area, we have the opportunity to help others come back from devastation and loss, and offer a little bit of support in return for all of the assistance and love we’ve been given from those around us in the recent weeks. How?

You have plenty of options! We know that many local schools and churches are currently taking up donations of food, clothing, diapers, basic hygiene needs, and more to ship off to the southern portion of Florida or all the way down into the islands, especially Puerto Rico. Lots of emergency relief teams are dispatching groups of volunteers to help aid in the crisis, so if “getting your hands dirty” is more of your style, and you have the means and time to go, this is a great way to give back. You also have the option of simply giving money through organizations like local relief groups, the Red Cross, or your own private church ministries or community programs. The possibilities are many, and the need is great.

Here in our own school community at ASA, we are actively working on “Pack the Bus for Puerto Rico”. This is an opportunity for each grade level at All Saints Academy to help with a specific need being faced by those in Puerto Rico, and help us literally pack the bus with supplies to send southward to offer relief and assistance. Your child’s teacher will be able to offer information about which specific supplies they are requesting their students bring, and we’ll be sure to post updates as we pack the bus and prepare to send it off.

Another way we were able to give back here at ASA is on a more local level. Our Homecoming Clothing drive accepted donations from many All Saints families, and we were glad to provide formal wear for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend their homecoming celebrations. Homecoming is an important part of the school experience, and we were thankful to help students, who lost everything else in the aftermath of the hurricane, attend their own school’s event.

Whether giving back in our own backyard, or heading to another territory altogether, we are thankful to be part of the Polk County community, and our local neighbors never cease to amaze us with their resiliency, and their giving hearts. We look forward to rebuilding together following our own hurricane crisis, while still giving back to those whose situation is even worse than our own. Let us remember to be the good we want to see in the world around us, by giving back in what ways we can just as others have given to us.