El Paso Cares: Schools mobilize to send supplies to east Texas

Many families in Houston had already purchased pens, pencils and paper in advance of the highly anticipated school year.

"Likely, these families had all of those supplies ready to go and their backpacks ready," said Melissa Martinez, a spokeswoman for El Paso Independent School District. "School was set to start this past Monday in the Houston area."

Instead, many of those students had to stay home because of the catastrophic rain and flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

Brock Chacón, an El Paso native, missed his first day of kindergarten.

"It got cancelled!" Chacón said.

When his father asked why, the six-year-old explained that it was "because of this massive flood-storm."

Houston schools expect many parents may have lost any existing school supplies to the massive flooding. That's why El Paso Independent School District partnered with local car dealerships, El Paso TV stations and Mesilla Valley Transport for the El Paso Cares Initiative.

The unprecedented effort brings together the El Paso New Car Dealers Association, 5 out of the 6 El Paso TV stations and the El Paso Independent School District. The effort seeks to channel El Pasoan's relief efforts with those who desperately need the help.

“This has been a very traumatic experience," Martinez said. "(The students) are removed from their homes, their comfort level, their comfort settings. If they’re going to be in a new city, the least that we can do is help provide them with that safety and that comfort of the familiar school environment. That includes providing them with school supplies.”

Chapin High School administrators have already seen success with their clothing drive. After a little bit more than a day, many bins were already full of needed supplies.

"It was actually the kids that decided they wanted to help," Julie Oshiro, the school's student activities manager.

Oshiro helped nearly two dozen students organize the bins on Thursday.

"Kids are really selfless," Oshiro said. "They think about the fact that they're not able to go to school, that they've lost everything, and they really want to do their part. They feel like they need to make a difference."

Chapin High School senior Yudith Nogami became involved because she has family in Houston.

"I just think that in crises like this, we all have to come together as a community and just do these things to help people," Nogami said.

Martinez said the district will also provide a warm place for families to sleep, if needed.

"We are equipped to offer shelter and of course to get their kids to school," Martinez said.

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