Lynchburg, Va. -- When University of Lynchburg senior Gabrielle Jones heard from a family friend, an elementary school teacher in southeastern North Carolina, about the devastating flooding following Hurricane Florence, she decided to do something.
So Jones, a pole vaulter on Lynchburg's track & field team, forwarded Lori Turturici's email around the Lynchburg campus.
"My 17 students have been out of school since September 11," the second-grade teacher in Brunswick County, N.C., wrote, "and are not anticipated to return until October 8 if we are lucky. Most of our homes are flooded and without running water. We are a Title 1 school and have many kids who are living below poverty level, so we are concerned of their welfare and well-being while riding this storm cleanup process at homes that were already at risk."
Turturici said the greatest needs were school supplies and hygiene products, but she also said more than anything, her students just needed reminding that someone was thinking about them.
The response, though, was something Jones never expected.
"By the end of the week, I was able to collect over 200 cards, 30 packs of crayons, 20 coloring books, construction paper, hygiene products, and stuffed animals," the education major said.
Originally, Jones thought to share her thoughts only with the track & field team and residence life, where she works as a resident advisor, but
"I realized that on campus one of our biggest and most influential communities is our sports teams," Jones said.
Lynchburg's cheerleading, women's soccer, softball, swimming, and track & field programs all contributed, as did the residence life staff.
Jones delivered the supplies to Turturici at Virginia Williamson Elementary School in Bolivia, N.C., in person over the weekend.
"I honestly didn't expect to get as much as I did," she said, "but I am so happy to have received so much for the kids."