Community Outpouring Answers Need After DeSoto ISD Fire

DeSoto Fire Chief Jerry Duffield expressed gratitude on behalf of DeSoto and DeSoto ISD for the generous outpouring of assistance after the fire that destroyed DeSoto ISD’s main warehouse in August. Photo Courtesy DeSoto ISD

DeSoto ISD Receives PPE Donations

A devastating structural fire on the morning of Thursday, August 27, destroyed the main warehouse storing supplies and equipment for DeSoto ISD.

Among the inventory lost was the district allotment of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) recently shipped by the Texas Education Agency. Although the district had already planned to open virtually, there was an expectation that the campuses would eventually be open to in-person instruction, and these PPE supplies would be mandatory. Replacement costs were estimated to be in excess of $80,000, a major budget blow for a district currently managing stressed financial resources.

News of the fire spread throughout the community, and the community responded! Donations have flooded the district replacing ALL of the destroyed PPE and then some!

Baylor Scott & White’s Faith in Action Initiatives had committed a donation of hand sanitizer prior to the fire that arrived after the fire and just in time. “On behalf of Baylor Scott & White’s division of Faith in Action Initiatives, we are pleased and honored to collaborate with DeSoto ISD to assist in providing needed PPEs for this most unusual school semester,” commented Donald E. Sewell, Ph.D., Director, Joel T. Allison Faith in Action Initiatives. “Baylor Scott & White Health continually provides volunteers as well as supplies to non-profit organizations across Texas and around the world. We see such assistance as our privilege for the best interests of our society, country, and world.”

Upon notification of the disaster, TEA initiated a replacement shipment, within a week of the fire, followed quickly by donations from district vendors, area businesses and individuals who poured out support in quantities large and small.

SSC Services for Education, a subsidiary of the Compass Group and the district’s custodial services contractor, donated 900 gallons of hand sanitizer; 15,000 disposable gloves of various sizes (med thru XL); and 63 infrared thermometers. “It is about the partnership and our company has the resources,” explained Larry Boykin, the DeSoto Custodial Director for SSC.

“As long as we have the resources, when it comes to DeSoto students and the community being protected, DeSoto will not be without.”

PepWear, a long time vendor of spirit wear for district entities, also responded to the alarm with a donation of 1,000 3 ply masks and 1,000 KN95 masks. “At PepWear, we make time to support our neighbors. Our core values are ‘Service. Integrity. Learning.’ Helping DeSoto ISD during this time was an easy choice.” stated Craig Johnson, CEO of PepWear.

Tradition Energy Donation

Tradition Energy, a long- term district vendor, contacted the district energy manager to arrange a $1,250 cash donation. “Tradition Energy extends its heartfelt donation to DeSoto ISD in support of its efforts to keep staff and students safe while moving forward with a successful school year” stated CEO, Alan Kurzer.

Plano based Toyota pivoted production early in the pandemic to develop face shields; they immediately offered 1400 to the district. “We are proud to join with the community to support DeSoto ISD by supplying face shields produced by our team members,” said Sean Suggs, group vice president, Toyota Social Innovation. “These were part of over 500,000 face shields donated throughout the U.S. to healthcare workers, school districts and nonprofit organizations.”

Nine Band Brewing Co. in Allen had also pivoted their business model from brewing beer to making hand sanitizer. When they heard about the fire, they offered over 100 gallons of hand sanitizer to the district stating “At Nine Band, we support the communities that support us.”

DFW based healthcare solutions provider Medcillary donated 47,200 kn95 face masks (masks must filter 95% or more of particles to meet the KN95 standard). “We’re in a position to help” CEO Jon Boski commented. “We’ve been helping schools and businesses countrywide mask-up. This fire was a tragedy affecting students in our Dallas backyard.”

Hand Sanitizer Ricca Chemicals

Arlington based chemical company Ricca Chemicals heard of the fire and offered a pallet of their signature hand sanitizer (36 cubes = 180 gallons). This liquid handrub (not gel) acts more rapidly and leaves less residue on hands compared to gel formulations. “Ricca Chemical Company, LLC, makes being a good corporate citizen a priority” stated owner Peter Ricca.

“While these last few months have been particularly challenging for so many people, we have been fortunate to be able to work at full capacity. Given the struggles that many are facing, it is the LEAST we can do to provide our sanitizing products at low or no cost to those critical front line healthcare workers, educators, and first responders. Together, we will get through these challenging times. Our wish is to help as many people stay as healthy as possible.”

While completing another project with the Dallas Mavericks and the Mavs Foundation, the subject of the fire came up as the delivery location needed to be adjusted. The Mavericks immediately offered additional assistance in the form of hand sanitizer and masks. “Even though school may look different this year, we are still dedicated to supporting North Texas students,” said Katie Edwards, SVP of External Affairs and President of Mavs Foundation. “By combining our efforts with Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics, we hope to boost their spirits and add a little bit of fun as they start their journey into the new school year.”

DeSoto ministerial alliance shared their partnership with Austin Emergency Supply Foundation in procuring 11,200 face masks, 20 boxes of large gloves (100 gloves per box) and 20 boxes of medium gloves (100 gloves per box).

Atmos Energy Donation

Atmos provided a $5,000 cash donation to the DeSoto ISD Education Foundation to fund the innovative grants that will assist teachers during this Covid age, then added a donation of 5,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. “Atmos Energy is committed to making a difference in the communities it serves”stated Public Affairs Manager Al Hernandez. “We take pride in doing everything we can to make our communities a place where students can grow and flourish.

“To see all those in the community giving back to the community is just wonderful,” remarked Kenzie Moore, DeSoto Mayor Pro Tem. “It is very important that we are here,” he continued, noting that what affects the citizens and the school district affects everyone. Photo courtesy DeSoto ISD

Heartwarming To See Community Support

Through our Fueling Safe and Thriving Communities program, we will donate $2 million across the eight states we serve to provide resources that help students read on-level by the third grade. Fueling safe and thriving communities means we are committed to doing our part to enhance childhood literacy and reduce food insecurity in our communities.”
In addition to corporate interests, individuals made monetary contributions and donations.

Notably, a high school counselor at Plano ISD started a drive to help replenish supplies. “I just couldn’t imagine having to come back to my school without appropriate PPE supplies” Monica Trevino explained. “Several of us felt that way, so we started a Go Fund Me and gathered what we could, just trying to help.”

Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones, Director of Communications; DeSoto ISD, being interviewed regarding the fire and the community outreach. Photo courtesy of DeSoto ISD.

“The outpouring of support from so many areas has been extremely helpful and humbling,” observed DeSoto ISD Communications Director Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones. “It’s heartwarming to know there are so many good people in the community that put their care into action and helped us reach our goals.”