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Schools, groups rally to aid Katrina victims

The Gulf Coast may be approximately 800 miles from Lawrence County but some local hands are bridging those miles with desperately needed supplies.

A number of area groups are sending relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) will have boot drives next week at area businesses and at the Lawrence County Courthouse to raise money for Hurricane Katrina Relief.

"We're hoping to have boots in place at supermarkets, restaurants. Some of the money raised will go to general relief and some of the money will go help firefighters in those areas," IAFF Local 532 secretary/treasurer Joe Stevens said.

The IAFF will also have roadblocks from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 17 at Sixth Street and Park Avenue in Ironton and at Third Street and Marion Pike at the Ironton/Coal Grove limits.

Ironton High School Student Council and the student newspaper class collected nearly $1,900 through a bucket drive at the Ironton-South Point football game last weekend and during bucket drives during lunch.

"The kids just gave from the heart," IHS teacher Tomi Litner said. "It was great."

Chesapeake Middle School began a fund raising campaign this week to help Katrina's victims. Donations will be given to the American Red Cross. Some Chesapeake area businesses have agreed to match the donations the students collect with

contributions of their own.

Symmes Valley Elementary School students and staff collected $1,306 from a bake sale at the school last Friday.

That money is being donated to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief. But the generosity doesn't stop there: Students, staff, area residents and the congregations of five churches have donated food, water and other supplies to fill a 24-foot rental truck and a sixteen foot trailer.

The supplies will be distributed to residents in three rural Alabama and Mississippi communities.

"One of our teachers, Chris Faulkner, grew up in that area. She was originally from Coal Grove but her father had a shrimp boat there for several years before they moved back to this area," Symmes Valley Elementary School teacher Lance Humphrey explained.

Humphrey said the relief effort was spearheaded by the school's student council and a number of area businesses and government leaders have donated supplies, money for gas and other necessities to make the trip possible. Five area residents will make the trip this weekend.

Humphrey said he is impressed with the outpouring of compassion Lawrence Countians have shown.

"The response has been overwhelming. Already we've gotten more supplies than I expected and they are still bringing donations. We're going this evening to pick up more donations from some of the churches," Humphrey said Thursday. "Everyone has just pitched in together."