‘RoCo for RoCo’: District holds drive for flood victims
By Rebecca Rider
LANDIS — As waters rose in Robeson County, Austin Chrismon, student body president of South Rowan High School, and officer Brandon Linn, the school’s resource officer, began thinking of all the people they knew who lived in the area.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is a school that frequently attracts South Rowan graduates, Chrismon said. It wasn’t a disaster that was unfolding somewhere else, to someone else — the flooding was, at least temporarily, displacing friends, family and former students.
“Here in Landis and China Grove, we’re a very tight-knit community,” Linn said.
And the stories flooding in were “eye-opening.” Chrismon said he has a cousin at UNC Pembroke. She came back to Rowan County after the flooding and told Chrismon that she grabbed an armful of items and waded through the knee-deep water of a student parking lot. A snake was swimming in the water near her, she said, and when she saw it she began to cry. Her story, and those of others, touched him.
“After seeing … the pictures, I wanted to help as best I could,” Chrismon said.
Linn, who has children, said that he was struck by the fact that one of the most greatly needed items are things like baby wipes and diapers.
“I mean, that really touches home for you,” he said.
Neither of them could stand by and do nothing. Over the weekend, both reached out to South Rowan Principal Kelly Withers — Linn about a drive his church, Landis Baptist, was holding, and Chrismon inquiring what he could do. Whithers put the two together. Linn was already in contact with emergency services in Robeson County, and on Monday, the two came up with a snappy supply drive: “RoCo for RoCo.”
With the help of social media and a few other students, the initiative quickly spread throughout the county. Chrismon said the moment he tweeted out about it, other students began retweeting.
“It just kind of shot out everywhere,” he said.
In just two days, “RoCo for RoCo” has spread county wide. Community members are encouraged to bring bottled water, toiletry items, baby items and non-perishable food to their local district school. Linn said that donation boxes have been placed in schools for the drive. Those who don’t have children in school should drop items off at their nearest district high school.
The drive will run through Thursday. Linn said he plans to pick up donated items on Friday and personally drive them — along with the donations from Landis Baptist — down to Robeson County. After speaking with the Robeson County Emergency Services yesterday, Linn said he was told that the county has received plenty of bottled water, but is still in need of baby and hygiene items and non-perishable food.
Chrismon said he was encouraging everyone to do as much as they could do help.
“If I’d been in that situation I would have accepted any help, little or big,” he said.
Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.
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