It was a big, fat party for Rockridge Junior High students in Edgington on Tuesday, but it was well-deserved.|
The seventh and eighth graders recently collected $500 and two boxes filled with napkins, paper towels, shampoo, gift cards and other essentials for a couple with ties to the Quad-Cities who were affected by Hurricane Isaac last summer.
Bryan and Paige Shrake live in LaPlace, La., but Ms. Shrake is from the Quad-Cities and attended Rockridge schools.Hurricane Isaac pushed water through their town and stalled there for several hours, stranding the Shrakes and their neighbors.
The Shrakes were rescued by boat, and they boarded a bus. After a five-hour ride, they were able to continue on to the Quad-Cities to stay with family. Because they were allowed only one small bag each for belongings, they arrived with paperwork and just two sets of clothes.
Ms. Shrake's cousin, Rockridge seventh-grade social studies teacher Amber Kiddoo, heard about the family's troubles and wanted to help.
"We do current events every week," Ms. Kiddoo said, so "we made a geography lesson out of it and talked to students about the effects of a hurricane."
Over a span of two weeks, Ms. Kiddoo took collections from her students to send to the Shrakes for the school's community outreach project.
For Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Shrakes shipped cupcakes, beads and Mardi Gras music to Ms. Kiddoo's students for a surprise party as a reward for their generosity.
"We wanted to do something fun, and Mardi Gras is all about fun," Ms. Shrake said.
"We were so moved and touched by the thoughtfulness and generosity of Rockridge Junior High students, coaches and faculty," she said. "They didn't ask us to stand in lines, fill out forms or wait to see if we even qualified for emergency assistance. They just took action and reached out their hands across several state lines."
The couple tried to get help from FEMA, but Ms. Shrake said they got more from the Rockridge students than in government aid.
Mr. and Ms. Shrake gutted their home and are sorting through belongings.
"We didn't have much left," Ms. Shrake said, adding that the cleaning supplies they received were especially helpful.
The couple hopes to move back into their home by the end of this month. They currently are living with friends.
The couple used some of the donated money to buy a new garage door opener, and they plan to use the rest on household supplies.