Johnstown collects school supplies for Fort Plain

JOHNSTOWN – In an effort to “Stuff the Bus,” volunteers from Johnstown’s Parent-Teacher Associations were busy Wednesday night collecting school supplies for children affected by flooding in the Fort Plain Central School District.

Around a dozen teachers and volunteers organized boxes and bags of school supplies brought in from residents of the Johnstown district and surrounding areas. Pens, pencils, crayons, folders, binders, rulers and more were organized and checked off on a list before being sent into the school bus.

Teresa Travis, Fort Plain PTA president and regional director for the Mohawk Valley PTA, said Stuff the Bus would benefit students of the Fort Plain school district who were affected by the June 28 flooding.

Travis was excited about the turnout.

“It is so amazing, the generosity of the community trying to help. It is overwhelming,” Travis said.

Travis said the donations were important to those who had lost their homes and could not afford school supplies.

“They can’t afford school supplies; they can’t afford to live,” Travis said.

Whole neighborhoods of Fort Plain flooded after water from the Otsquago Creek rose, destroying homes on Reid and Abbot Streets, killing one woman and devastating the whole community.

“I think last count there were 50 houses to be demolished on [Abbott and Reid Streets],” Travis said.

Misty Houser, Glebe Street PTA co-president, was the one who presented the idea to Travis.

Houser said the supplies will go to Harry Hoag Elementary School in Fort Plain before being divided among students.

Houser said she had gotten together with other PTA representatives, organizing the drive. Within one day, the drive was fully organized.

“It had just kind of blossomed from there,” Houser said.

Houser said representatives of Steet Toyota, Nathan Littauer Hospital and other organizations had come Wednesday to present donations.

“Throughout the week, myself and [other volunteers] had people come to our houses and drop up stuff, so it hasn’t just been here,” Houser said.

Travis said the supplies will help many students.

Houser said Fort Plain Central School District will tell her if more supplies are needed. Cash and gift cards also have been donated, in case “a gap needs to be filled”.

Johnstown resident Chris Cole and his mother, Elena Willett, the Knox Jr. High PTA president, delivered several bags of supplies gathered from the Johnstown Price Chopper’s Pharmacy department.

“They contacted me last week and asked if they could be part of it,” Willett said, setting five boxes of supplies with the rest.

“It’s going great, they are counting everything that comes in,” Willett said.

Willett said further fundraisers could occur.

“We help all the communities,” Willett said.

Patty Turnbull, a retired Fonda-Fultonville teacher, donated pencil boxes, folders and other supplies.

“This is such a wonderful thing to do for our friends in Fort Plain,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull said when Fultonville flooded in previous storms, other municipalities and volunteers helped the village. Turnbull said this was her returning the favor.

Beth Cwiakala, a Fort Plain teacher, also donated supplies. She said the support was greatly needed.

“It is wonderful to see all the support, all the caring going on here,” Cwiakala said.