The disaster inspired many to think of creative ways to help the victims.
Dennis Leavitt, a seminary teacher at Snow Canyon High School, brainstormed with his peers ways to help the flood victims.
“When you saw the flood, you knew you wanted to help,” Leavitt said. “I don’t know of any better way to describe it. It was just so out-of-the-ordinary and devastating that you knew you had to do something to assist.”
The idea they came up with was to have students collect money in sandbags in front of local businesses to help the flood victims in an effort coined, “Funds for Flooded Families.” Calls were made immediately and in an hour and a half, seventy-five students had gathered at the city council office to begin.
“So it all happened really kind of like a flood—just an unexpected enthusiasm that kind of carried through,” Leavitt said.
For four days, the students collected funds from the community—nearly $24,000—mostly in the form of dollars and cents.
“As far as percentage of impact, I think it’s one of the great donation efforts that’s taken place in town,” Leavitt said. “High school kids certainly aren’t like business owners and families who have access to a lot of resources. We’re talking about kids who have caught a quarter here or a quarter there—$24,000-plus over four days in pocket change is a very, very generous outpouring from the community.”
Channing Sevy, the student body vice president at Pine View High School, collected donations with a couple of others in front of a grocery store.
“I thought it was cool that even though we were teenagers, it was still a worthy enough cause that they still donated money and a lot of them were like, ‘You know, we trust you guys and here’s some money, do with it what you can,’” she said.
The response was tremendous as the students encouraged community members to give whatever they could.
“There were some people that came into [the grocery store] and they said, ‘We are those families that you are doing this for and we are so grateful for what you guys are doing, thank you, you guys, for doing this,’” Sevy said. “And that was cool for us.”
The effort has since spurred other fundraising efforts, including benefit concerts, the quick creation of a book and DVD documenting the disaster called Portraits of Loss, Stories of Hope, and other groups collecting donations. All of this money has gone directly to those whose dwellings were flooded, through the Virgin and Santa Clara River Flood Relief fund. Larry Gardner, a St. George City Council member, met many grateful recipients of the donations. “It’s the type of things that people do when others give of themselves even though it might be a widow’s mite, it makes a difference in the way that people feel and think and have the ability to carry on,” he said.
Gardner accepted the money raised by the high school students on behalf of the city of St. George.
“It caused us to experience a great sense of community,” he said. “It caused us to feel that everyone was willing to help and feel united in the human cause.”