Rio Vista students write notes of encouragement to Harvey victims

Jaime Santiago, left, Isi Eichie, center, and Parys Taylor, right, look at each other's cards that they made for those effected by Hurricane Harvey during an afterschool program at Rio Vista Elementary on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“We are sending some sun to you.”

“We’ll dry up all your water with sun power.”

These were just a few of the cards students at Rio Vista Elementary’s Child Development Program wrote to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

During last week’s heat wave, the students in kindergarten to sixth grade decided to “send some sun” to Houston by making cards decorated with bright yellow suns and words of encouragement.

“I followed the storm from the beginning to the end and it was so hot here that week,” said Lydia Lemus, assistant site supervisor at Rio Vista’s Child Development Program.  “I said what a difference if we could trade our sun for them.  I thought what a great idea to make cards and send some of our cards and sunshine over there.”

Leaders of the school’s Child Development Program also took the opportunity to inform students of what happened during Hurricane Harvey and storm that came with it.

“A lot of them knew about the flooding and rain going on and knew they wanted to make cards for them,” said Marisol Curry, site supervisor for Rio Vista’s Child Development Program.  “Even some of our kindergarteners drew suns and wrote notes.”

All of the students in the afterschool program hoped that their letters of encouragement would brighten people’s day.

“I wrote that I hope the people in Texas can have a good day and feel happy and that it brightens their day,” sixth grade student Matias Castro.

Others penned sympathetic notes in the hopes of making Houston residents feel better in the wake of the disaster,

“I’ve been hearing on the news what they were going through and I was feeling like I needed to help,” sixth grade student David Thorne said.  “I hope they feel joy and know that someone feels empathetic for what they’re going through.”

Second grade student Naomi Herrold said she learned about Hurricane Harvey during her time in the Child Development Program and hoped her card would bring a smile to those who read it.

“I wrote, I know you have rain but if you think of happiness you’ll have sunshine,” she said.  “I thought of that because I thought the people would feel better reading it.”

Others heard about the disaster on the news as it was happening.

“I saw the news and I feel bad for them,” second grade student Aiden Miller said.  “It [my card] looked like a dark side and a good side and I crossed out the dark side.  The good side always wins and the bad side always loses.”

The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey hit close to home for sixth grade student Isi Eichie whose mother is in Houston.

“I feel sad that so many homes are being destroyed,” she said.  “My mom is in Houston so I want people to help other people with families there.”

Eichie’s card folded in half and included a sun on the front and a sun with sunglasses on the inside that read: “Sending sun to you… to clear up your rainy days.”

Fifth grade student Jamie Santiago got creative with her card and designed a sun to look like the emoji winking with its tongue sticking out.  For Santiago, not having a home, going to school or seeing her friends would be devastating.

“I feel bad for them because they have no homes and can’t go to school and we can,” she said.

Now that the cards are complete Lemus is hoping to send them to Texas through the Red Cross or through the Santa Clarita Disaster Coalition.

Overall she is proud of her students for demonstrating compassion for others and wanting to help during a time of need.

“I love to see when there are moments of growth, spiritual growth, development, having compassion for others and thinking outside of their material world,” Lemus said.

Students at Rio Vista Elementary made cards featuring sunshine for those effected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath during an afterschool program on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

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