DA Community Rallies to Help Victims of Hurricane Florence

By Kathy Mcpherson // Photography by Michael Branscom
Carolina Cavalry

Hurricane Florence left Eastern North Carolina reeling, and the Durham Academy community was quick to spring into action with donations of much-needed supplies.

The Middle School was an official collection site for the Carolina Cavalry, a grass-roots group delivering items to areas devastated by the hurricane. Durham Academy has a direct connection to the Carolina Cavalry through Jennie Hobbs — a Middle School parent, chair of the Carolina Cavalry and a native of storm-ravaged New Bern.

“We are so thankful that DA offered to be a collection site,” Hobbs said. “We are a grass-roots organization developed out of a desire to live the golden rule. It’s humbling to see so many volunteering and giving.”

DA students, faculty and parents volunteered with the Carolina Cavalry to organize and pack supplies, which were transported to Eastern North Carolina.

The DA community also responded to a plea from alumna Nicole Tozzi Graves ’08, a fourth-grade teacher at Murrayville Elementary School in Wilming-ton, who saw the hurricane’s devastation firsthand.

Graves collected donations for families at Murrayville Elementary. Some of her students lost their homes, and employees at the school were
in need.

“Hurricane Florence left many of the families at my school and surrounding area with nothing, including several children and their families from my own class,” Graves said via email. “Right now, I am working to gather as many supplies as I can to help out our community. My students have been through so much these past several days, and anything we can do to help will make a difference in their lives; I know this firsthand.”

Graves listed the most-needed items and said “I will make sure they get into the hands of people who have been so impacted by this storm. … Fortunately, the school itself only suffered minor damage, but the effects for our students will be felt for many months to come.”

Graves’ mother, Becky Rohn, a teacher at Hill Learning Center, and brother, Ryan Tozzi ’10, took donations to Wilmington immediately after the hurricane and made multiple trips in the following weeks.

Eleventh-grader Sophia Smith, who has close ties to New Bern, organized a drive to help people in the flood-ravaged town that experienced some of the earliest and most damaging effects of the storm.

Smith’s mother grew up in New Bern, and her grandparents still live there. Images of flooded New Bern, a town that dates to colonial times, were some of the first glimpses of Hurricane Florence’s devastation.

“I immediately wanted to do something about it,” Smith said. “… My mom reached out to people on Facebook, because she is still connected with friends from her childhood. People led her to this organization called Religious Community Services.”

Smith held a schoolwide drive to benefit the organization, which provided relief in Craven, Pamlico and Jones counties, and drove the collected supplies to New Bern with her family.

“New Bern is a very special place to my mom and whole family, so this means so much!”

  • DA News
  • Magazine Winter 2019
  • Middle School News