Missouri students don't have to look far to help others

In January 2010, the Missouri Department of Education organized its students to help young people stricken by a terrible disaster – an earthquake in Haiti, hundreds of miles away. As a result of the relief effort, Missouri students and school personnel raised enough money to pay for over 40,000 hygiene kits for young victims of the earthquake.

Now, in the aftermath of the May 22 tornado which leveled a large portion of the Joplin, Mo. and killed more than 140 people - the department has launched another humanitarian effort, this time to help children within its own state borders.

“Missouri kids helping Missouri kids” is the theme of a statewide relief effort launched May 25 by state education officials.  The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is asking school personnel and students to raise funds to help students in Joplin Public Schools who have been affected by the disaster.

“Now, it is time to help school kids in Joplin,” said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro.  “If every student would donate $1, just imagine the amount of relief our nearly one million students across the state could provide.”

Nicastro visited the Joplin area to extend support and assistance to officials at the Joplin Public Schools. Local school officials said the greatest need is cash donations to provide assistance to their students.

A DOE press release cited Kim Vann, communications director for Joplin Public Schools, as saying the school district has a total enrollment of nearly 8,000 students, and nearly half of its student body lives in the affected area.