EXETER — When Brooke Allen saw the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, she knew she had to do something.
“I saw it on TV and I saw the flood and it was terrible,” Allen said. “I really felt bad and I wanted to help the people.”
A third-grade student at Exeter’s Wyoming Area Catholic, Brooke turned to her school community for help. The 9-year-old West Pittston resident wrote a letter to school officials imploring them to rally students, parents and staff behind a relief effort.
The institution hosted a supply drive on its campus on Sept. 9, during which it collected blankets, pillows, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coloring books and more to aide Houston residents as their community recovers.
Brooke said she wanted to help the people of Houston “so they can stand up very tall and they can stand up for themselves.”
Brooke’s mother, Ann Marie, said her daughter is “always the caring mother-type.” Her father, Tony, said it was important to support their daughter — the two arrived early to help set up and stayed with their daughter, helping parse through donations.
“We’re just doing what’s best for our child and what she wants to project to the world,” Tony said. “She wants to reach out.”
After Brooke reached out to Wyoming Area Catholic through her letter, staff organized a “dress down” donation day that allowed students to dress casually for a $2 donation. Principal Eileen Rishcoff said some students donated more — up to $100 more.
“It’s all about community, everything, that’s what we teach here,” Rishcoff said. “We teach them about service, and that’s our faith. We live, love and learn by faith, and our faith teaches them.”
Wyoming Area Catholic Parent Teacher Guild President Lisa Pribula, was motivated by Brooke’s letter and began reaching out to the community at-large to make Sept. 9’s supply drive a success. She courted coverage from local news outlets, arranged for road signs along Wyoming Avenue to promote the event and was on site assisting other volunteers.
Pribula, of Exeter, said it was important for Wyoming Area Catholic students to take part in helping other people — and that some of them were paying forward past kindnesses.
“It’s kind of close to home because, you know, years ago we had the incident with West Pittston and everything that was flooding,” Pribula said. “Some of our students are from West Pittston and they’ve gone through it themselves. This is their way of helping back for people that helped them when they were going through it.”
Brooke’s message also reached Harding resident Megan Mead and her daughters, Mira, 5, and Maya, 4. Mead said they saw Harvey’s aftermath on news broadcasts and wanted to help. When they heard about Wyoming Area Catholic’s collection, they decided to donate to the cause.
“They wanted to give the kids some of their toys,” Mead said. “They actually selected what they wanted to donate and we got it and dropped it off.”
Mead and others arrived early to donate and at 11 a.m., Brooke was happy about what was accomplished but unwilling to rest.
“I think it’s great; we donated so much but we have to get a little more,” Brooke said.
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org