Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Three months after a tornado touched down in Ringgold, donations continue to funnel in from outside sources.
The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta recently sent a $100,000 check to benefit the Ringgold High School and Middle School Athletic Tornado Relief Fund.
“It’s really overwhelming,” Ringgold High School principal Sharon Vaughn said of the response. “A Dalton garden club sent me a check for $300. And Simpsonville Elementary School in Simpsonville, South Carolina, sent a school yearbook with a check for $682.12 collected by the students. A group of kids from Signal Mountain Middle High School set up a booth at their local grocery store and also collected $3,200 for our school.”
RHS athletic director Robert Akins said the Ringgold High School and Middle School Athletic Tornado Relief Fund had already raised $120,000, but with the new $100,000 and about $80,000 raised at the Josh Turner Concert and Charles B. Davis Memorial Rodeo the total now sits at $300,000.
“We are really thankful for people that sacrificed for us in our time of need,” he said. “Our kids will reap the benefits of all the donations.”
He said about 600 high school and middle school athletes combined will benefit from the donations, which will assist in reconditioning athletic fields and improving athletic facilities. He said Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay 75 percent, Georgia Emergency Management Agency will pick up 10 percent, leaving RHS to pay for 15 percent of the cost in athletic fields and equipment repairs.
“Our football, baseball, high school practice and middle school practice fields will all need to be redone,” said Akins. “For baseball, we are trying to get sod in the ground for next spring.”
In the meantime, RHS Tigers football team will play this season at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga. The junior varsity and middle school football players will play their football games away this season.
Although the athletics fields will not be ready before students return to school Sept. 6, the buildings will be.
“When we first came out here and looked at the damage there was a sense of hopelessness,” said Catoosa County Schools Superintendent Denia Reese. “The team here worked to clean up after Hurricane Katrina. It’s amazing what they can do in a short amount of time. They have exceeded my expectations.”
Vaughn said workers have been like bees in a hive working non-stop three shifts for seven days a week. She said the workers have cleaned and repaired the building to look better than before.
Reese said the school will be fresh and clean, so she hopes that will wipe away pictures in students’ heads of the tornado.
“Everyone in the community put their hands together to help along with the team on-site,” said Reese. “With the community behind us there’s nothing we can’t get accomplished.”