"Vernonya (sic) had a flood. Please donate books to help people have more hope. Vernonya has no books and other stuff. Please donate happy books only. No scary or unhappy books.' - Jacob Wismer third-graders Ishaan Tewari, Alex Fang and Caleb Clark wrote on the front of a decorated box for students affected by the Vernonia flood.
Yvette Wallace gave her Jacob Wismer Elementary School students an idea of just how high five feet of water is by walking around the room (she's 5-foot-2) and demonstrating for them what items in her third-grade classroom would be soaked.
'I asked them if that happened, what wouldn't we have in our room?' said Wallace. 'And they started making a list of things.'
Wallace said she watched news of the flooding in Vernonia on television and saw the damage done to schools there, especially to Washington Grade School
'It struck me as a teacher, that would be devastating to me and my students,' she said. 'The whole grade school was under water.'
After checking with interim principal Robin Case Wallace, she got the go-ahead to host a book drive for the school two weeks ago. The day after, the class kicked off the book drive and 25 books showed up. By last Thursday, students had filled 31/2 boxes with books, 448 books in all.
'We're going to open it to the whole school after the holidays,' said Wallace.
Karina Shah, a third-grader in Wallace's class, said she brought in books about life under the sea and books about 'Casper, the Friendly Ghost.'
Shah said she understood the reason behind the book drive.
'The flood was 5 feet so they didn't have any more books,' explained Shah. 'We're going to help them collect books that are happy.'
Isabell Dorkin said she brought in 'Dora, the Explorer,' books along with a children's mystery series. She wrote down her reason for wanting to help the Vernonia students: 'Books can brighten a kid's future. I know it has brightened up mine, and I know it could brighten up someone else's.'
Wallace said she's thought of setting a goal on the number of books she'd like to see students collect but hasn't discussed it with her students yet.
Ideally, Wallace said she would like to collect three books per student for the roughly 300 students attending Washington Grade School.
'And that's a very conservative goal,' she said. 'Our community is very generous historically.'
She said parents have been supportive as well.
'I just keep getting e-mail after e-mail from the families,' she said.
Wallace said every time she turns around, new books arrive.
Meanwhile, the Beaverton School District is in the process of collecting and forwarding textbooks to the Vernonia School District as well. Also, Findley Elementary School and the Beaverton Education Association have launched school supply drives.
'We have collected like five loads of materials, everything from Kleenex to crayons to hand sanitizer to books for kids, all kinds of stuff and we're working with (Vernonia's teaching union) to find a time we can get that to them,' said Hanna Vaandering, president of the Beaverton Education Association.