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Roswell comes together for Harvey victims; Students team up with Youth ChalleNGe Academy cadets to help

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Cadets from Youth ChalleNGe Academy help load boxes of goods and supplies on Friday, which were collected by students from Washington Avenue Elementary School. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Along with food and other non-perishable items, boxes lined a hallway of Washington Avenue Elementary outfitted with crayon-written messages of hope.

On Friday afternoon, students from the elementary school cheered from the sidelines as New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy cadets carried packages of goods and toys to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Rhonda Boardman, a first-grade teacher at Washington Avenue Elementary, said the collection for canned food and paper goods began after one student wanted to help.
“It started with a little girl in one of the other classes that wanted to help, and she saw the truck outside of Farmers (Country Market), and so then, she wanted to make it bigger,” Boardman said. “Then, we asked Mrs. Arnold, and she said yes.”
Boardman said she then started talking about how to help the victims. She said, after explaining how they could help, they were completely on-board with helping.
“Then they were talking about, ‘Well, I could bring my stuffed animals, and I could bring my toys,’” she said. “They’ve been really, really passionate about it, and they worked really hard, talking to each other, and encouraging the other people — it started in higher grades, but trickled down to us.”
Boardman said some students brought their own, well-loved toys for those left practically devastated.
“They’re seeing the footage,” Boardman said. “They’re seeing the flooding, they’re seeing all that, and they can’t help — they don’t know how to help, and so I think that’s why it was so exciting for them.

“They were like, ‘I can do that. I can bring a can of food. I can help someone that I will never meet that will never be able to thank me, and that’s OK. I can be a part of something bigger than me.’”
Boardman said all the items collected were in the course of two days. While she didn’t know how much was exactly donated, she said it was a lot.
“The parents really responded,” Boardman said. “I think the parents were relieved, too.
“Just seeing the people that have very little at home going and bringing what they have and sharing what they have — trying to help others — because the kids are just as sad and overwhelmed as the grownups.”
The amount of donated goods was so much, cadets from the New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy came in to help load the goods into a moving truck.
Boardman said the elementary school has arrangements set up with the academy so that cadets can come every Monday and Friday to volunteer within classrooms and interact with students one on one.
“Did you see their faces?” Boardman asked. “They were so excited to be able to do something — that’s what we were talking about.
“We were like, ‘Guys — we helped them. We allowed them to help when otherwise they wouldn’t be able to do anything either.”
The donated items were loaded into a truck that was a part of the weeklong donation-gathering started by Jim Marling in front of Farmers Country Market, who began his drive to Texas Saturday morning. He reassured students he would be sure to tell those who receive the goods where they came from.
Boardman said the two-day drive was a way for all students to help.
“This was one thing that they could do,” Boardman said. “I’m amazed at how quickly it came together and how well it worked out.”
Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.