Fifth-graders at Mount Laurel’s Hartford School help students in Houston after Hurricane Harvey

Fifth-grade students in Mt. Laurel collected school supplies for fifth-grade students at Mitchell Elementary School in Houston.

According to the Mt. Laurel School District, when Hurricane Harvey tore through Houston in August, fifth-grade teacher Douglas Bozarth at Mt. Laurel’s Hartford School immediately thought of the many schools in Houston that were about to begin a new school year.

It was then, according to the district, that Bozarth reached out to a fellow teacher in Texas, who connected him with the Texas Teachers of Tomorrow.

By the time Hartford School opened on Sept. 7, district officials say a plan had been hatched to partner Bozarth’s students with fifth-graders in Houston’s Mitchell Elementary School.

According to the district, Mitchell Elementary School is one of 287 schools in the Houston Independent School District, the largest district in the state. All 287 schools suffered damage during the hurricane, with Mitchell being one of the more significantly damaged facilities. Students have been relocated and began their school year three weeks late.

While students and staff were settling into that transition, district officials say members of Hartford School’s Team Respect were making lists.

“We spent two weeks collecting school supplies, including notebooks, backpacks, pencils, markers and even Kleenex,” Bozarth said. “We encouraged students to do the shopping with their parents because we wanted them to be a part of the effort; to think about the students they were helping.”

As part of the experience, district officials say students also wrote letters to the Mitchell fifth-graders and are planning to Skype directly with students once they are settled in their home school.

According to the district, Team Respect students sorted and packed the supplies, shipping seven large boxes that contained supplies worth hundreds of dollars for students and staff on Oct. 18.

According to the district, Fulton Bank of New Jersey, located in Mt. Laurel, also made a significant donation to the cause.