Front row left to right: Juan Campos, Emily Holstein, Braxton Noll Back row left to right: Tiffany Bullington, Kyler Johnson, Braedon Wallace, Ainhoa Bush, Porter Rich and Braxton Grevenstuk. Photo provided.

AKRON, IN – Students and staff at Tippecanoe Valley Middle School recently ended a four-day donation drive for people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

TVMS collected $671 and more than 370 pairs of new underwear for people impacted by the storm. The school had a grade level competition to encourage students to donate. Each grade level received one point for each pair of new underwear collected and one point for every dollar raised.

The idea for an underwear drive came from a Facebook video featuring Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston. In the video, Brown talks about the need for new underwear for storm victims – an item often overlooked in disaster collection drives.

“Everyone has been asking about what you can do to help. I’m going to ask you for what we really need because this is not a community that needs things to be pretty or wrapped in a bow. We need underwear,” Brown sternly said. The video has 3.7 million views and more than 75,000 shares on Facebook.

TVMS began collecting new underwear on Sept. 5 and tallied the points on Sept. 8. Sixth grade won the grade level competition with 456 points. Eighth grade came in second with 331 points and seventh grade had 247 points.

“One of our themes for this school year is empathy, so this really fit in with that,” said Susanne Siebrase, guidance counselor at TVMS. “Also, one of our goals for our students is for them to positively impact the community.”

The school also held special days where students could pay a dollar to wear a hat. Staff members also chipped in by donating some of their own money or by purchasing new underwear.

“I really wanted to help because if that happened to me, I would be really sad,” said sixth grade student Braedon Wallace.

Several sixth grade students also wrote letters of encouragement to send with the new underwear – 150 letters in all – that featured inspiring messages.

The new underwear and the money raised by TVMS will be shipped to the non-profit organization Undies for Everyone in Texas. The organization will then determine where the biggest needs are and distribute the supplies in either Houston or surrounding communities.

“It feels good knowing that I helped some people down in Texas get something they need to wear,” said sixth grader Ainhoa Bush.

TVMS has held community service projects in the past including a sock drive last October and a food drive in November.

SOURCE: News release from Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation