Schools Lead Efforts to Support Harvey Victims has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)


CENTERVILLE — The plan to help started out simple enough: collect 20 T-shirts and 10 pairs of shoes to donate to the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.

"I told my son (Aidan) I thought we could do it ... literally not having any idea what we were getting ourselves into," said Matt Somerlot, Centerville High School's boys and girls track coach and assistant cross country coach.

The effort - duplicated in one way or another at practically every high school in the Miami Valley - ended with a truck pulling a flatbed trailer with more than 240 pairs of shoes and more than 2,400 shirts to Texas.

"It really steamrolled," Somerlot said. "You can't help but watch things like that and think, 'They're on top of their roof and they have nothing.' It's very easy to get motivated and help."

Somerlot's relief effort came after seeing a tweet from University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson asking coaches across the country to send 20 shirts and 10 pairs of shoes. Many responded. One count had Sampson's challenge raising more than 100,000 shirts and tens of thousands of pairs of shoes.

Schools responded in additional ways, too. While impossible to mention all the schools and their fundraising efforts, here's a sampling:

* Xenia raised 5,782 pairs of news socks.

* Dixie collected food, water and money at a football game.

* Catholic Central, Covington, Franklin, Greeneview and Mechanicsburg sent dozens of boxes of shirts.

* Arcanum and Ansonia joined together during a football game to raise donations.

* Troy held a schoolwide drive for non-perishable food and supplies.

* Lebanon donated five dozen T-shirts to Impact Church of Lebanon's collection efforts.

* Fort Loramie collected more than 40 boxes of clothes and shoes prior to its football game with Greenon.

* Each of Alter's sports teams donated 10 shirts and worked with Carroll to have a goods drive during its football game.

* Milton-Union is hosting a pancake dinner Oct. 6 prior to its football game with Brookville with proceeds going to the Red Cross.

* Fort Recovery and Valley View collected more than $2,600 in donations to send to Rockport-Fulton High School, located about three hours southwest of Houston. The town of Rockport, home to about 10,000, took a direct hit from Hurricane Harvey's 130 mph winds Aug. 25. It's estimated between 10-15 inches of rain fell on Rockport in a 24-hour period.

The cheerleaders from both teams made 'Prayers for Rockport' banners that students signed and sent to the school.

"Our cheerleaders stepped up and kind of ran with it," Fort Recovery athletic director Kurt Rammel said. "Our students here, we've kind of educated them. Some of them kind of live in a bubble where they're not too familiar with what's going on around the world. ... Just trying to open their eyes to this being a time of need."

Rockport opened its football season Friday night.

"When you live in Ohio, it's hard to imagine those kinds of floods and people losing their homes and pets and losing everything," said West Liberty-Salem cross country and track coach Ann Vogel, whose girls cross country team collected more than 150 new and gently worn running shoes. "It's a little thing we can do to give back and for the girls, I hope it's a teaching moment that they can see there are things bigger than them in life."

Shoes, socks and donations were also collected by Northmont and Butler during their Sept. 14 football game. The items were collected for Shoes for the Shoeless and four trucks left for the Beaumont, Texas, area on Tuesday.

In Sidney, a trailer parked at the high school - in cooperation with Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce - was filled with diapers, cleaning supplies and water. Sidney Transportation Services delivered the items.

"It was a very strong turnout. I'm really happy the community came through like they did," Sidney AD Mitch Hoying said. "I didn't know what to expect considering churches and groups around town were doing something similar. There was a strong response from everyone in Sidney."

Centerville's Somerlot said he's considering using the Warrior Elk Challenge track meet in the spring to raise additional funds.

Hurricane Harvey hit close to home for Somerlet. He has a cousin who lives in Texas with a wife and kids.

"They lucked out," he said. "They lost stuff on the outside of their house but they didn't get any water inside."

Should Somerlot decide to revisit donations in the spring, he's confident the response will be similar. Centerville's boys golf team donated windbreakers and jackets. The football team sent camp T-shirts. The athletic department donated two boxes of shirts. It was a schoolwide effort.

Alumni also donated. And then there was a woman who had prepared for a garage sale but instead donated the items to Centerville.

"We got to Friday afternoon and all of a sudden we've got 35 boxes and the reality hits of how we're going to ship it?" Somerlot said. "We lucked out and had some private donors come in and we got some great rates to send it down.

"It was really cool to be a part of. There's no way it happens without everyone pitching in."

Staff writer Parker Perry

contributed to this story.

Contact this writer at

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September 29, 2017


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