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“We really identified with the teachers in Florida – both as retired teachers and as residents of a coastal state that is affected by hurricanes and seasonal weather. We knew it could happen to us, and the next year it did.”
“In August 2004, Hurricane Charley hit southwest Florida. Some members of the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association were in Washington, D.C., for the National Leadership Conference with representatives from other states when the hurricane struck. We all watched the news coverage of the devastation it wrought and decided to help out. We set up an emergency hurricane fund to collect money for teachers in Florida whose schools had been damaged or destroyed.
We collected money from our members at meetings, and some units held their own fundraising drives to get donations from their communities. At a district meeting around Thanksgiving my wife and I decorated paper bags with pumpkins and put them on every table to encourage people to leave donations for the fund. We also sent out notices to leaders of other state Retired Teacher Associations, many of whom we had met at the Leadership Meeting when the hurricane hit, telling them about the project and asking for their help.
After raising more than $30,000, we purchased $100 Office Depot gift cards and traveled to Florida to give them to the teachers. We visited four different schools, in different areas of the state, and gave these gift cards to the faculty.
As residents of a coastal state, we understood the needs of the teachers in Florida. They could have just as easily been our needs. We also knew, as teachers, that sometimes classroom supplies can be hard to come by—even under normal circumstances. We wanted to put our efforts and money where it was needed most. And we also wanted to encourage and support the teachers during this difficult time in their lives.”