Hurricane Irma’s effects will be felt for months and even years to come. And while we could focus on the destruction the powerful storm left behind throughout the Caribbean and Florida, we have found it much more useful to note the heartrending stories of those who have helped their neighbors through this ongoing crisis.One such tale that has hit us close to home is that of the Lee Elementary fire here in Tampa, Florida.
The Lee Elementary Fire
As you may have heard, Lee Elementary Magnet School of World Studies & Technology, the oldest magnet school here in Hillsborough County, caught fire as power was restored to the neighborhood in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Built in 1906, the school was an important community institution with a long history. For its students, it has represented a safe haven where they are given the opportunity to learn about and engage with the world around them. While the building has suffered millions of dollars of damage, the school year must go on.
Because of the fire this past Tuesday, students and teachers have been relocated to Lockhart Elementary and today started classes at their new location. Teachers setting up their classrooms over the weekend were welcomed by other educators who came to help them as they established their new rooms and to assist with the difficult transition. While a new classroom won’t replace the loss of the historic school building, the kindness the community has shown has helped to ease transition.
The Lee Elementary Fire didn’t just destroy a building, it charred textbooks, burned equipment, and singed furniture. The amazing teachers who today are facing their students in a new school environment will have to rebuild their classroom libraries from scratch and repopulate their educational supplies. That is no easy task, especially when teachers too often use their own income to purchase supplies for their classroom.
Lee Elementary GoFundMe Campaign
To help with the costs of purchasing new books and supplies, the Lee Elementary PTA has started a GoFundMe campaign. At the time of writing, the campaign is close to reaching its $10,000 goal. However, this is only a small step towards replacing all the items damaged in the fire. We hope that the community will continue to rally behind the school and help them raise far beyond their goal.
To assist in this endeavor, Winters & Yonker has donated $2,500 to the cause. We understand that many Tampa residents are dealing with their own hurricane damage, but we hope that some of you may be able to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign to help ensure these children get the education they deserve. Every little bit counts and will help the children of Lee Elementary as they start school all over again in a new environment.
Tampa is an amazing city and the past week has only shown how open-hearted its residents are. In the face of adversity, we have shown that we can rise above and assist our neighbors because ultimately, in these tough times, it is that light and that goodness that will prosper and persevere.