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Flooding damages Bright Futures donations

by Janelle Jessen | February 21, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
Photo submitted Volunteers Rachel Hickman (left), Valerie King, P.J. Derwin and Terri Wubbena help sort through damaged school supplies after the Bright Futures donation room flooded on Wednesday.

A pipe burst in Bright Futures Siloam Springs' donation room inside the intermediate school, ruining much of the nonprofit's store of school supplies, backpacks and books used for students in need.

A group of about 20 volunteers helped sort through the items on Wednesday to salvage what they could, according to Tiffany Hansen, director of Bright Futures and the Panther Health and Wellness Clinic. About 40 percent of the donations in the room were a loss and some of the food items also had to be disposed of, she said.

"It was pretty disheartening," she said.

The school district experienced burst pipes and leaks at all six of its main campuses. Because the leak at the intermediate school originated from an overhead pipe in the ceiling of the donation room and happened sometime in the night, the damage was extensive, Hansen said. Water flooded the entire Panther Health and Wellness Clinic and made its way into the main school area, she said.

Fortunately the nonprofit uses a different room for coats, socks and shoes, so those items were not impacted, she said.

Bright Futures' mission is to help meet students' basic needs so they can focus on being more successful in the classroom, Hansen said.

The school supplies that were damaged are mainly used for the back to school backpack drive in later summer, but they are also used throughout the year when teachers or school counselors let Bright Futures know about a student in need, Hansen said. The organization also contributes supplies to teachers when they are running low, she said.

Because Bright Futures is a separate nonprofit, its unlikely the ruined supplies will be covered by school insurance, according to Superintendent Jody Wiggins.

It has been uplifting to see how volunteers from the school district and the community has come together to help, Hansen said. She has already recieved several calls from people who want to contribute, she said.

Bright Futures will be planning drives throughout the year to replenish the supplies before next August, Hansen said. Those who would like to help can reach out to the Bright Futures Siloam Springs Facebook page or by calling (479) 524-8175.

Photo submitted
Volunteers Jazmin Rubio (left) and Michele Markovich help sort through damaged school supplies on Wednesday after Bright Futures donation room flooded.
Photo submitted Volunteers Jazmin Rubio (left) and Michele Markovich help sort through damaged school supplies on Wednesday after Bright Futures donation room flooded.
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