DENHAM SPRINGS — Donations to the Livingston Parish school system continue to arrive, and for the second time, the school system has relocated where it stores the donations -- briefly – before shipping them out to schools.
“The trucks are getting bigger.” said John Foster, a retired educator who came back to oversee the donations storage for school system.
“We got too much freight, so it is coming to a warehouse facility,” Foster said at the facility off Pete’s Highway on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
On this day, a pair of 18-wheelers arrived, thanks to a Baton Rouge native teaching in Wisconsin.
Janet Newton, an English, literature and drama teacher at Plymouth High School for the past 15 years in Plymouth, Wisc., was the catalyst for this shipment.
Newton has lived in Wisconsin for 30 years, according to her sister, Rita Hutchins, of Prairieville.
“She tries to get me up there for winter,” Hutchins said.
Hutchins was on hand to watch the unloading with her son Jeff Walters, who lives in Walker, where her grandchildren go to school.
“We hope they will be able to use everything,” Hutchins said. “It’s amazing what she collected.”
Walters helped with the unloading and took pictures for his aunt.
The large rigs, donated by Sargento Foods Inc. and Johnsonville Sausage LLC in Wisconsin, included a multitude of items, such as six boxes of food going to Second Harvest Food Bank.
It has been two months since the Great Flood of 2016, and Foster said people in other states have had more time to get organized and collect items.
“They are just now starting to collect donations. I see this going on for months,” Foster said, adding two weeks ago he had five 18-wheelers arrive in one day.
Phone calls and texts bombard Foster from “5 a.m. until I go to bed. If I’m away from my phone for an hour, that means I will have 100 text messages to go through when I sit down,” he said.
Warehouse manager Ronald Collar deftly handled unloading the pallets with a forklift, quickly putting them in rows of seven on one side of the warehouse.
There would be no trouble knowing what was on each pallet, encased in shrink-wrap and at least feet high.
Newton labeled each box inside each pallet with an 8x11 page bearing the logo “PSD Helping LPSD” and a description of what was the box.
“She’s a big organizer,” Hutchins said.
“Janet worked a month on this,” she added, saying Newton stored donations on her stage from other schools then had 40 volunteers help box up the donations.
Chipping in with donations was the Pulaski Community School District, north of Green Bay; schools in Sheboygan, Fond du Lac and Beaver Dam in southeast Wisconsin, several churches, a Girl Scout troop, the Target, Wal-Mart and Subway stores in Plymouth, and even the “The PHS Jolly Pranksters Comic Improv Team.”
A total of 96 desks were sent, with 10 tables, two teacher desk, folding chairs jutting out of wrapped boxes, plastic yard chairs for kindergarteners.
Other pallets contained writing materials, books, teaching materials, cleaning materials, playground equipment and soccer balls.
Also unloaded were 14 pallets of paper donated by Neenah Paper Inc. of Appleton, Wisc.
“The brother of a teacher there got the donation,” Hutchins said.
Foster reaction to Newton’s effort: “She got in touch with the right people.”
Unloading was only the first step, according to Foster.
“Tomorrow, we will have a whole warehouse staff here, four to five people, secretarial staff and a forklift operator,” he said.
“The work hasn’t started yet. It will be sorted, restacked and shipped,” to schools, Foster said.