Safety First in Ohio Classrooms Fourth-grade teacher Kim Nixon says she has some peace of mind and a sense of security knowing that her classroom at Riverview Elementary School in Ohio is equipped with a little something extra. Stashed in her classroom closet, that special something is a 5-gallon “safety bucket” donated by the Stow-Munroe Falls Lions Club, and it could someday save lives. Nixon says she hopes she never has to pull it out but that children in her class are aware of the bucket’s intended use in case of emergency. They may not know exactly what’s included inside the bucket, but they do understand its importance. “I can talk to them about this only to a certain extent. I told them that at any given time, I may have to send them to my closet. When I say, ‘the bucket,’ they know what I’m talking about. My closet is close to the door and my desk so I can get to it easily,” says Nixon, who adds that teachers have also received police training about emergency procedures. “After Sandy Hook, I’m sure many Lions were thinking about their own children or grandchildren in school, and it hit home.” She’s right about that. One of those deeply concerned Lions was her own mother, Marty Dennis, who joined Denise Tonelli in spearheading the club’s campaign to provide 400 safety buckets for school district classrooms, offices and gymnasiums. “My daughter’s been a teacher for 25 years. We talked about what teacher can do when they need help while alone in their classrooms if a school is under lockdown,” Dennis says. Since the Sandy Hook tragedy in late 2012, there have been at least another 74 school shootings. The buckets are filled with ordinary items that can be of extraordinary value in case of natural emergency or a school lockdown. A can of wasp spray in the bucket serves the same purpose as mace if sprayed in the face of an intruder. Among supplies are bandages, plastic bags for waste disposal, a roll of toilet paper, a small fleece blanket and a 16-ounce claw hammer to break out windows for a quick escape. A secure cloth cover serves as a lid, keeping the bucket’s contents from children’s view. Only adults in charge are aware of what’s inside. Also included are duct tape and paper towels, both of which can cover a wound. First responders suggested helpful items to include, and a police chief in another town has already spearheaded a similar school safety bucket campaign. More than $5,000 was raised for the project, and $2,500 worth of supplies were contributed by local businesses, says Dennis. Many contributors were retired teachers. Lions Support Stricken Oso Raffling a wooden bear welcome sign crafted by two members, Bellingham Harborview Lions in Washington hoped to make at least $500. They raised $5,800. “Why not a lion? Because in Spanish, ‘el oso’ means the bear,” explains Frances Kinkaid. Lions’ fundraising began immediately after the March 22 mudslide that killed at least 41 people and destroyed much of the town of Oso. The entire amount was given to the MD 19 Lions ALERT Team (LAT) for relief in Oso and neighboring Darrington. Just a month after the disaster, more than $50,000 had been raised by Lions. Tom Smarsh, LAT co-chair with 2013-2014 District 19 B Governor Steve Brooks, says that the 10-member group discovered immediate needs for food, water, clothing and gas cards were being met by rapid assistance from all over the country. A Washington native, Brooks says, “I can honestly say that the pictures we’ve all seen on the news don’t do justice to what occurred in the area.” Lions met with FEMA, members of the Oso Fire Department and other agencies to discuss how they could best help financially since they weren’t allowed to enter the disaster area, some of which was buried 70 feet deep in mud and toxic debris. Smarsh says that Lions discovered that long-term needs would include replenishing emergency products depleted by area fire departments, grief counseling, eye tests, eyeglasses, helping senior centers, and cleaning up after first responders left. “This could last years into the future,” he points out. Prior to moving to Washington in 2011, Smarsh worked on several tornado and flood disasters as an ALERT chair in Kansas. What he experienced in Oso was totally different. “A Kansas tornado has warning,” Smarsh explains. “With the advancement of the Doppler radar systems, most tornadoes today give the people in its path some amount of warning. The Oso slide had no warning and moved huge trees, homes, debris, rocks and mud down that mountain at over 60 miles per hour with no warning.” Brooks, a Lake Stevens Lion, says that immediately after the slide, requests came from Lions within the district and from throughout the United States and Canada about where to send relief aid. Fundraising efforts included Lions at a District 19 C convention who passed the hat to collect $1,500, a Leo club chartered for just two months donating $250 and Lions selling reflective safety jackets to raise $2,600 for LAT.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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