Merritt’s schools were some of the hardest hit by flooding on Nov. 15, 2021. Merritt Central Elementary School was so heavily damaged by flood waters students were moved to temporary classrooms in local churches and the former Coquihalla Middle School, where they still remain more than 90 days after the event.
In the wake of this catastrophic event, Emma Postlethwaite, president of the David Thompson Secondary School student council in Invermere, felt compelled to do something to help.
“After hearing about all of the devastating floods in BC on the news, I started thinking about ways I could help the victims,” explained Postlethwaite.
“As the president of my school student council and a member of the Columbia Valley Rotary Interact Club, I asked the two groups to collaborate in order to maximize our reach. Knowing that both groups were small, with limited budgets to help, we decided to reach out to the larger community.”
Postlethwaite reached out to Central Elementary and connected with Vice Principal Natasha Omori. Omori explained the situation that Central students and teachers found themselves in and Postlethwaite was inspired to launch a supply drive in support.
“Aside from our drop-off location in the school we arranged two other community-based drop-off locations at local businesses in town,” said Postlethwaite, who noted that word of the initiative spread quickly.
“We were able to connect with local associations such as the community Library and Friends, the local Legion, Invermere and Radium Rotary Clubs, and the Canfor Mill in Radium, BC. With the help of our community, we were able to exceed our collection goals. We received $2500+ in cash donations, 100+ children and young adult books, and large amounts of school and office supplies.”
Although it was hoped that members of the David Thompson Secondary School student council would be able to make the trip to Merritt to present the supplies in person, Chris Leonard of the Radium Hot Springs Rotary Club provided the delivery when that was not possible.
“I’m really impressed with their generosity and their thoughtfulness and concern,” said Omori.
“This young lady has done a lot of work to get this going, and right from the onset of the floods was all over it, she’s been communicating with me quite regularly asking what supplies we might need and when would be a good time to bring them, how many classes we have. For a young lady she’s quite organized and it’s very impressive. She deserves some recognition.”
“When I had the idea for the project I never thought it would be so successful and I was very surprised by the strong community response,” concluded Postlethwaite.