POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Kathleen Middle School is no longer accepting school supply donations due to lack of storage.
“We are good at this point for supplies,” said Sheila Gregory, the school’s principal. “I only say that we’re good because we have no storage. We are using every nook and cranny that there is in this school to house people so they have a place to work with our students.”
Citrus Connection, with the help of the VFW Post 8154 Auxiliary, topped off the donations Friday by delivering several boxes of supplies via, appropriately, a Citrus Connection bus.
“We have students who ride the bus to and from school and other activities and we’ve heard firsthand the impact this event has had for them,” said Tom Phillips, executive director of Citrus Connection.
Just before midnight on Oct. 18th, an EF-2 tornado struck the Kathleen area near north Lakeland.
The storm destroyed several homes and caused damage throughout the area.
It ripped part of the roof off Kathleen Middle School, leaking water throughout several floors, all the way to the basement.
“Our supply closet was decimated. The classrooms [lost] all their supplies so this is replenishing what they need to be successful in the classrooms right now,” said Gregory.
Twelve classrooms were damaged.
After a week off, students returned to campus Monday and attended class in 12 portable classrooms.
“[The students] say the same things that I’ve been saying ‘They’re a lot nicer than I thought’,” said dean of students Billy Lay. “They got the projectors. They have everything the normal classroom has, brand new carpet in there. It feels like a little home.”
Principal Gregory said the first week went off without any hiccups.
The main historic building is being gutted.
“Right now everything is turned over to the district and the insurance companies and they will make the determination what’s going to happen,” said Gregory.
Those wishing to send checks or money orders can still mail them to the Polk Education Foundation: 1530 Shumate Drive, Bartow, FL 33830. Donations can also be made online here.