Morris teens aid Joplin, Mo. tornado victims
MT. OLIVE -- When Rachel Stewart and Casey Schreiner heard about the tornado that struck Joplin, Mo on May 22, they asked themselves how they could help.
The answer was The Joplin Project.
With the assistance of Zach and Lori Bonner of the Little Red Wagon Foundation, Mt. Stewart and Schreiner, both students at Mount Olive High School, collected donations for, assembled and distributed over 200 backpacks of school supplies to the children of Joplin’s North Middle School.
Stewart and Schreiner were in Joplin from July 17 to 21 to hand out the backpacks. They also volunteered at College Heights Christian Church, a Joplin-based congregation, to distribute additional aid and connect with the residents. The two teens, both students at Mount Olive High School, were awed by the resilient spirit they encountered in Joplin. “Everyone was committed to rebuilding what they had lost and comforting fellow victims,” said Stewart. “The sense of community and acceptance was so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
The May 22 tornado that struck Joplin resulted in 159 deaths and destroyed one-third of the city of 50,000.
Months later, the city is still digging out from the massive amounts of debris that litter the area. Over 7,000 homes and 18,000 cars were destroyed in addition to 10 public school buildings.
With help from Schreiner’s mom, Gina, they were able to spearhead a campaign that touched hundreds of families. Knowing that the victims of this disaster will continue to need help in the coming year, their efforts will continue, with plans to collect supplies and donations through a business club this September.
Through the generosity of residents of the Mt. Olive area, and businesses such as Shop-Rite and Staples, The Joplin Project has been a success in providing aid for Joplin students in need of support.
For Stewart and Schreiner, seeing the results of all the hard work and effort in carrying out The Joplin Project has been greatly rewarding.
“I feel lucky to have worked with and helped the people of Joplin,” Stewart said.