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Students Get Lesson In Compassion By Helping Isabel Victims

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CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. — Many victims of Hurricane Isabel are still without furniture and extra clothing three weeks after the storm. Elementary school students in one of the hardest hit areas decided to help their neighbors recover through a class project.

Virginia Piner's students are getting a lesson in compassion. Students at Symrna Elementary School wanted to help after Hurricane Isabel hit the area, so they asked their community to chip in.

"It was amazing. It just sort of overwhelmed us with donations," she said.

The school gym is full of clothes and blankets. They have delivered more than 100 pieces of donated furniture so far. With hundreds of homes destroyed in the area, the donations are going fast.

"It's really bad because these people worked all their lives for this and they just don't know which way to turn," project organizer Julie Pittman said.

Once a week, Piner takes some of her students on a field trip to the eastern part of the state to give them a firsthand look at the devastation and chance to hand out things that they have colleted. Students go door-to-door in the hardest hit neighborhoods with a bag of groceries and a smile.

"It's really neat to see the people's faces and everything. When they get the food, they're real thankful," eighth-grader Chris Berner said.

"Some of them were very emotional towards us and gave us hugs, and it makes you feel very good," eighth-grader Zoe Wise said.

As Linda Fulcher's flooded furniture went out, her goodie bag came in.

"It really makes you feel great to think the kids are really involved in this and trying to help people," she said.

Piner said her students will continue to help until everything is rebuilt. The school plans to keep part of its gym as a storage area for furniture as long as donations continue to come in.


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