When Chris Holt, commander of American Legion Darren Tate Post 425 in Amarillo, Texas, heard that assistant principal Chris Young of Heritage Hills Elementary wanted to have safety buckets inside all 50 classrooms to provide assistance in case of an emergency like a tornado, the post immediately stepped forward to meet the need.
Holt, whose wife works at the elementary, said to Young, “Let me take this to my members and let me see what we can do for you.” Post 425 ran with the idea and has currently provided 16 safety buckets since January when it began fundraising and collecting donations. The buckets contain a fire extinguisher, water, snacks, trash bags, duct tape, pry bar, first aid material, disposable gloves, a lid cover that can also be utilized as a toilet seat for the bucket, a shower curtain for privacy and more.
"We wanted a wide variety of items, so the idea and purpose of these buckets is to give our teachers and our staff the resources they would need to feel confident in taking care of our kids in an emergency situation," Young told the Amarillo Globe-News.
Post 425’s goal is to provide a bucket for all 50 classrooms at Heritage Hills Elementary. Holt said they also hope to provide the same safety bucket to other schools in the district and inspire Legion posts nationwide to supply safety buckets to classrooms in their school district.
Training will be provided to each teacher at Heritage Hills Elementary on how to use the items in the bucket during an emergency and store the bucket in a safe place.
"We know that we have different items throughout the school, but to have an entire bucket of supplies, that would be helpful in each classroom. It brings a lot of confidence to each of our teachers and our parents and community, knowing that we are doing everything we can to make sure the students remain safe and keep their focus on education, not safety," Young added.
Post 425 received its temporary charter in August 2022 and is named after a U.S. Navy Afghanistan veteran whose mother is a Unit 425 Auxiliary member. Post 425’s membership has been active in the community from the start. “You have to be active in the community. If you’re not active and you’re not giving to the community, nobody is going to help you or give back to you,” Holt said.
He is looking forward to turning in the paperwork soon for Post 425’s permanent charter and showing how the post supported the Legion’s Children & Youth pillar and April as Children & Youth Month through the safety buckets.
“We came through for a school that requested emergency buckets that can be used for any type of natural disaster,” Holt said. “The school board is impressed that a veteran organization has taken a liking to their school and that we could do this for them.”