Hurricane Florence has left Eastern North Carolina reeling, and the Durham Academy community is already working to help with donations of much-needed supplies. The Middle School is an official collection site for the Carolina Cavalry, a grass-roots group delivering items to areas devastated by the hurricane.
Another way to help is to respond to a plea from DA alumna Nicole Tozzi Graves ’08, a fourth-grade teacher at Murrayville Elementary School in Wilmington, who has seen the devastation first-hand. Graves’ mother, Becky Rohn, a teacher at The Hill Center, and brother, Ryan Tozzi ’10, are taking donations to Wilmington on Saturday and will be continuing to make that trip.
In addition, 11th-grader Sophia Smith, who has close ties to New Bern, has organized a drive to help people in this flood-ravaged town that experienced some of the earliest and most damaging effects of the storm.
Middle School Director Jon Meredith emailed Middle School parents Wednesday asking for nonperishable food, water, cleaning supplies or any items on the Carolina Cavalry website, and now the call goes out to all DA families and the greater Durham community. 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 has 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.”
The Middle School is accepting donations from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours donations should be taken to the drop-off area used for book donations at the front of campus under the Durham Academy sign.
In addition to supplying donations, several Durham Academy students, faculty and parents have been volunteering with the Carolina Cavalry over the past week.
Graves is collecting donations that will go to families at Murrayville Elementary. Some of her students have lost their homes, and employees at the school are in need. Donated items may be dropped off at The Hill Center front office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Sept. 24–28.
“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 first hand.
“If you are interested in helping, I have listed some items below that I know are needed and I will make sure they get into the hands of people who have been so impacted by this storm. The picture I’ve included is of a house that is right down the street from our school. Fortunately, the school itself only suffered minor damage, but the effects for our students will be felt for many months to come.”
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 has organized a drive to benefit the organization, which is focused on providing relief in Craven, Pamlico and Jones counties, and plans to drive the collected supplies to New Bern with her family in the coming weeks. Donations may be brought to the Kenan Auditorium lobby, Kirby Gym and the Upper School Learning Commons.
“We hope to help out as many families and people in need, and I know that everyone will appreciate it,” Smith said. “New Bern is a very special place to my mom and whole family, so this means so much!”
Items Sought by Graves:
Household cleaning supplies
Pet food/cat litter
Feminine hygiene products
Bedroom and living room furniture (possibly a future donation)
Items Sought by the Carolina Cavalry:
Ready-to-eat non-perishable food
Mops, squeegees, buckets
Sponges, brushes, scouring pads
Tape (electrical, duct, packing)
Paper cups and napkins
Personal hygiene products
All infant products
New clothing / bedding (preferably with tags on)
Used clothes / bedding cannot be accepted
Items Sought by the Carolina Cavalry: