65° F Thursday, May 25, 2017

Brown Primary pre-kindergarten teacher Mary Crawford has a close family connection to West, Texas.

Her uncle, Marty Crawford, the superintendent of West Independent School District, is now left with the daunting task of education children who have been the victims of the West fertilizer-plant explosion.

“My uncle has done a fantastic job with getting the students back into school by bringing some normalcy into their lives,” Crawford said.

And Smithville Indepdent School District is helping out in the aftermath of the tragedy.

SISD has established the “Pay It Forward Smithville” fundraiser in efforts to support West ISD by collecting money and gift cards at all four school campuses.

Crawford has been in direct contact with her uncle to better understand the current needs of the West school district.

“I know that West is a great family-oriented little town that has pulled together to overcome this adversity that they have been faced with,” she said.

SISD students and staff have been collecting donations since the April 17 blast that killed 14 people and left over 200 injured, in addition to property damage that has left many homeless.

“We all remember how blessed we were during the Bastrop wildfires to receive donations and support from so many communities and people,” said Carrie Gonzalez, Smithville Junior High School assistant band director.

Gonzales said that the West school district will need a great deal of help to recover in the aftermath of the explosion, similar to what Bastrop County required after the 2011 Complex Fire.

“I have been trying to use this as a lesson for my students,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a good way to use their own experiences to come out on the other side of it.”

To contribute to the effort to help West ISD, contact Smithville school campuses directly, or seek out other ways to help West ISD and their community by using these references:

• Education Service Center Region 12 has coordinated efforts to assist West ISD. They have posted a list of supplies that secondary school students and teachers will need on their website: www.esc12.net

• Donations are being collected at the McLennan County Extension Office. Water, Gatorade, food, toiletries, baby wipes, baby items, blankets, towels, wash rags, clothing and shoes for men, women and children are among the many things needed. Please bring donations by the extension office at 420 N. 6th St., Waco, Texas.

• Blood donations are needed and can be provided in local areas through Carter Blood Care. Visit their website: www.carterbloodcare.org for more information.

• Baylor University has organized a West news page and relief fund at www.baylor.edu/relief/give

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