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Fourth Graders from Adventist School in Massachusetts Help Kentucky Tornado Victims

The South Lancaster Academy fourth grade class collect supplies for children impacted by recent tornadoes.

SLA Massachusetts fourth graders

Fourth graders at South Lancaster Academy in Massachusetts stand behind the stacks of donations goods for children in a Kentucky community that sustained severe damage from tornadoes in December 2021. Photo provided by Atlantic Union Gleaner/South Lancaster Academy

On Dec. 10, 2021, a large tornado devastated parts of Kentucky and damaged numerous towns within a 165-mile swath. Heidi Larsen, South Lancaster Academy’s (SLA) fourth grade teacher and member of the SLA class of 1989, contacted a friend who lived in the affected area to see how they were doing.

Thankfully, God spared Jennifer (Wade) Camas, M.D., (SLA class of 1992) and her family from the storm, but she shared with Larsen how those living not far from her sustained terrible losses from the storm. Larsen wanted to help. Camas suggested that if Larsen sent a few necessities, she would distribute them as she helped the victims.

Larsen brought the idea to her fourth grade class, and the students were excited to help other children who had lost so much right before Christmas. Together, they made a list of things they could bring to school: toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, soap, deodorant, socks, flashlights, clothing, and small toys. Word quickly spread about what the fourth graders were doing, and donations poured in from other SLA students and the community.

In one week, the class had gathered nine large boxes of supplies to send to those affected by the tornado. 

“I was speechless as to how our small project had grown to be so large! At one moment, I remember saying, ‘God, I don’t know how I am going to organize all this — it is a little bit bigger than I had planned!’ I had papers to grade, Christmas festivities to plan, and I had no idea how I was going to pay for all that shipping."

Larsen continued, “I think God must have chuckled at me. He seemed to answer me, ‘I’ve got this! This was My plan all along!’”

“God did indeed work out all the details,” Larsen added. “I can’t begin to express my gratefulness to everyone who donated their time, their supplies, and their money to help us send our gifts of love.”

— Shauna Neidigh is director of development, South Lancaster Academy in Massachusetts; this article originally appeared on the Atlantic Union Gleaner website.