Fundraiser for La Grange, TX tonight at Lakeland game


LAGRANGE – The needs of hurricane victims are coming home to LaGrange County today.

Pastor Jonathan Smith of the First Baptist Church in La Grange, Texas is here visiting schools in the county and sharing the stories of his community which was flooded by Hurricane Harvey.

Rather than a prolonged event, for his community Harvey was a flash flood of historic proportions, with some having just minutes to leave their homes.

"There was a family in my congregation...we have a significant deaf community in La Grange...and the family had about twenty minutes to get out. I bet in a twelve hour span (the river) went from normal to 54 feet, and flood stage is 26."

The flood destroyed 351 homes and displaced more than 1,000 residents.

Pastor Smith says the similarity between the two LaGranges is striking.

"La Grange and LaGrange have a lot in common. Our sizes are similar. I think our socio-economic levels are similar. But I've found this is the best of America, right? We have our problems in our country. We all know that. But when LaGrange, who doesn't know La Grange, reaches out to La Grange in this kind of way, it's a beautiful expression of what it means to be an American."

Lakeland Middle School Guidance Counselor Joanne Gillespie and Sixth Grade Teacher Lauren Harris wanted to do something for the Texas city and their effort quickly expanded throughout the school corporation and the local community.

Harris says it’s been educational for the students.

"We've done a lot of videos and discussion questions like throughout this week. One of the questions was how would you feel if this was your home, and how would you feel if someone else was helping our community? And I think that has been a big connection for these students is knowing that they're just like us. This could easily happen to us."

They’ve raised over $11-thousand dollars before tonight’s fundraiser at the Lakeland-Garrett football game begins. Fans are encouraged to wear the purple colors of the La Grange Texas Panthers to tonight’s game.

(Pictured above: JoAnn Gillespie, Lauren Harris, Crystal Leu, Superintendent Dr. Eva Merkel, and Pastor Jonathan Smith of La Grange, TX)

Glen Oaks to place historic marker at original site
Prairie Heights HS earns Gold Star