I got to renew acquaintance with a former student this week and I had a chance to say thank you to her and her students for a generous thing they have done.  Claudette Golden Wellington, teacher of 5th and 6th grades at Roff, called me this week to tell me of  an effort she and her students had been making since last October to help a victim of Hurricane Katrina.

“In our 5th and 6th grade social studies classes we had been reading about the plight of people in the Gulf area following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” Wellington told me. “The students wanted to know if they could do something to help.”

Wellington suggested that they, the teacher as well as the students, put the money they would normally have spent for soft drinks and candy into a fund to help someone who had been affected by the hurricane. “We decided we would do this until just before Christmas.”

The kids were enthusiastic about the idea.  Every day, they brought the money they would have spent at the concession stand and gave it to the ‘Katrina fund.”

“A couple of weeks ago, we counted and found we had $130.  We thought we had found a Louisiana family who had migrated to Rollow, Mo., and we planned to send the money to them. However, before we could do so, the family disappeared leaving no forwarding address. Next, I called the American Red Cross and they said they’d get back with us, but they have not done so. 

Last week Wellington read in my column about my sister-in-law, Virginia Wilcox, going back to her home in Slidell, La., after spending three months with us in Ada.  She read the column to her kids and they decided they would send the money to Ginny.  She can use it as she thinks best. 

Sunday afternoon, Wellington came to my house and brought the money order for me to forward to Ginny in Slidell.  I was able to leave word for Ginny to call me, and she did so.  She was very touched and appreciative of the children’s efforts.  “I’m sure there are many who need the money worse than I, and I’ll look about for some child about the age of those 5th and 6th graders from Roff.  He or she will correspond with them and give them an account of what is being done to get life back to normal here.”

After my conversation with Ginny, I am aware that, though progress has been made, there is still an overwhelming task ahead for those affected by Katrina.  There is still no electricity or running water on the street where Ginny lives.  She still has hopes that she can salvage her trailer, but her older son believes that is an impossible task. Huge trees are still lying on the ground all over her property. It will take some sessions with bulldozers  to get rid of these fallen trees  so that electric and water lines can be restored.  Ginny is presently living in a travel trailer, on loan from FEMA, in her son Kevin’s front yard.   The lower story of her son’s house was destroyed by flood waters.  He and his wife and five children have the loan of two FEMA trailers.  It is one of these that Ginny and a  granddaughter are occupying.

It was good to visit with Wellington.  I don’t think I had seen her since she was in my English literature class many years ago. There were seven Golden kids, and I taught all of them at one time or another, and it was good to hear their whereabouts.  All live in the Ada region except for the sister who lives in Rollow, Mo.,  and supplied the names of the potential recipients of the  student aid.    Wellington’s mother and one sister live at  Byng.

Wellington and her husband have been  Roff School faculty members for the past 17 years.   He has been grade school principal and coach.  

To the 5th and 6th graders at Roff, I say many thanks for your generosity and sweetness of spirit. You will be hearing from someone in the Slidell area.

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A note from Janice Flowers gives me information about her granddaughter, Brooke Harris, who will participate as Byng Teen USA in the Miss Oklahoma Teen USA pageant, Dec. 16-18, at the Nancy O’Brien Center for the Performing Arts, Norman.   Harris is the daughter of Teri Scroggins and Tim Harris and the granddaughter of the late Ed Scroggins, the late Babe Harris, Lorene Harris and Janice and Denver Flowers.

Harris is on the honor roll at her school, is active in basketball, track-high jump, and softball.  She is also  active in her church and is a tribal member of the Choctaw tribe. For more information or to purchase pageant tickets, contact Janice Flowers, 18041 CR 1520, telephone 436-0511.

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If one’s only social activities were church activities, she could stay pretty busy if she were a member of  New Bethel Baptist Church.   For example, our Baptist Women assisted with a Christmas dinner for a group of residents at Baptist Village Friday afternoon at 5 p.m.  Several family members were present for the festivities. Saturday at 5 p.m. we had an all-church Christmas party.  We ate and then played games such as marbles and Jokers, Mexican dominoes, Skip Bo, etc.    Sunday afternoon, the choir presented, for the third time, its cantata “There Is a Bethlehem,” for the Baptist Village.  The group served punch and cookies to the residents following the choral presentation.  Evening services at New Bethel were cancelled. Men’s prayer breakfast will be at 7 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17.   Church children and youth will present a Christmas program at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 18, and Christmas dinner will follow. 

New Bethel’s goal for the Lottie Moon mission offering is $6,000, and approximately one-third has been given.    As usual, a lighted board displays the first stanza of the hymn “Joy to the World.”   Each note is assigned monetary value and the board is lighted only so far as Lottie Moon money has been received.  Each Sunday at morning and evening services the hymn is sung as far as the lights extend.   Legend is that anyone who sings beyond the lighted area will be obligated to “buy” his unlighted notes.  To date, no one has ventured  beyond the lighted area, at least not loud enough to be heard.