Youth group travels from Iowa to help Atkinson elementary students - News, Weather & Sports

Youth group travels from Iowa to help Atkinson elementary students

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By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email
Posted By Mike Dever - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A youth group from Iowa drove nine hours to Louisville to deliver more than 2,000 books to Atkinson Elementary School.

Almost every student at Atkinson Elementary is on free or reduced lunch. The school lacks money and resources, but has heart - and they got some help thanks to a letter from Linda Jessee, a teacher at Atkinson.

Jessee says her students are often from families who can't afford to provide basic school supplies. "They come to school and they want to learn. Sometimes they lack the supplies and tools that they need."

More than 1,500 schools nationwide participated in the called "Henkel Helps Contest," explaining why they needed financial assistance.

The winner - Parkersburg High School in Iowa - received $25,000. That school was destroyed by a tornado on May 25, 2008.

Atkinson was the runner up, and received $2,500.

But after winning first place, a youth group from Iowa decided to come to our community to see what they could do to help, even though they're still rebuilding after the tornado.

"The back of the school got hit the worst, I mean some of it was just, like, there at least, but I think our gym was completely gone - a lot of it was just gone," said 11th grader Scott Sivola.

Less than a year later, his community is well on its way to rebuilding, but instead of focusing on its own needs, a youth group wanted to help students at Atkinson Elementary.

The youth group traveled to Louisville with 2,000 donated books for the kids.

"l said to the kids look at the shelves," recalled Parkersburg UMC Youth Group Leader Susan Sivola. "Our libraries back home at our school - packed full. If you go look at the library shelves here, I don't know if they're a third full."

Youth group members said it was worth the trip. "It was just awe-inspiring to see how many people could come out and, like, help us," Scott said. "And it's almost like you almost have to do something - I mean how can you not help someone else out like that?"

The books will be especially helpful, since Atkinson's supply was limited this year because of the school's shrinking budget.

"It's amazing," said Lisa Hirsch-Aavig with the Atkinson Family Resource Center. "It's kind of a 'pay it forward' sort of story."

The youth group members planned to stick around for two days to volunteer with the kids.

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