The Catholic Commentator 

“Dear STM Families, 

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Alexis Harvey, from left, Father Michael Alello, Chance Pope and Alex Campbell look over Hurricane Harvey donations. St. Thomas More School is collecting new socks and shoes and gift cards.  Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator 


“We remember where we were a year ago.”  

With that line, Dr. Judy Armstrong, principal of St. Thomas More School in Baton Rouge, reached out to school families for donations to help Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and southwest Louisiana damaged or flooded by Hurricane Harvey. The school is giving back to those who responded to the flood of 2016.  

“Last year when we had over a third of our students and faculty members flooded, schools reached out to us and some of those schools were from the Houston-Lake Charles area and so we want to reach back out to them,” said Armstrong. “We saw what was happening in Houston, and we lived it a year ago in our neighborhood.” 

One day after Armstrong sent out her email, donations of new socks and tennis shoes and gift cards started coming in.  

Eighth-grader Alexis Harvey, president of the school’s Beta Club, remembered those items were most needed after last year’s historic rain event. While her family’s home did not flood, her neighborhood did.  

“We came up with it because that was the one thing most donated last year, and we needed a lot of that to help people so we figured that might be the best to  donate,” she said.  

Donated items ranged from packages of athletic socks and toddler socks to tennis shoes in all sizes and colors. Also, a large envelope was filled with gift cards.  

“We found that when we were working with our own families that the gift cards were something they could take, go to a store, whether they needed cleaning supplies, groceries, personal items or clothing that we didn’t collect, it gave them the opportunity to go do that,” she said.  

Student Council president Chance Pope, also an eighth grade student, was surprised by the quick response.  

“I am. This is a ton of stuff and only three days,” he said. “I didn’t think we could get this much. Everybody’s talking about it, and they all want to bring stuff in.”  

Fellow eighth-grade student Alex Campbell lives on a street that flooded. While her home was spared, her grandparents were not as fortunate and had to move in with her family for four months. She said she is happy giving back.  

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St. Thomas More School is collecting new socks and shoes and gift cards  for Hurricane Harvey relief.  Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator 


“I really love it because I feel like I’m helping people because we went through it last year,” she said. “So, now we’re helping people going through the same thing we were going through so it feels good to help.”  

Father Michael Alello, parish administrator at St. Thomas More Church in Baton Rouge, said he has not been in touch with other priests from the affected areas because he is “waiting for people to get through the immediate response” before reaching out to them.  

“We know that the real challenge is going to be in the months ahead, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do down the road as well,” he said.  

Armstrong said the school will continue to collect new shoes, socks and gift cards during the next couple of weeks from anyone who wishes to donate, then hand deliver the items to Houston or Lake Charles after the schools get resettled.  

Of the 625 students at her school, Armstrong said everyone is participating.  

“Actually, a little young girl brought up her little shoes this morning, so we’re pleased,” she said.