Oh, the power of Facebook.
During Kimberly Gregory’s Hurricane Irma experience, the Marathon resident and Fishermen’s Community Hospital manager posted often about evacuation, then about returning to her destroyed home and workplace.
Every step of the way, Kelli Thornton-Miller’s eighth graders were watching at Fowlerville Junior High in Michigan.
“I just wanted them to know that even though it wasn’t hitting them here, I wanted them to realize it was happening to us in the United States,” Thornton-Miller said.
A photo of Gregory shows her wearing a respirator, safety glasses and hardhat shortly after Irma. The caption read: “Irma, you will not hold me back. I will rebuild my happy place.” She also posted about the hospital and how it was destroyed because of roof damage in the hurricane.
From 1,500 miles away, the Fowlerville students started brainstorming.
As her National Junior Honor Society project, eighth grader RaeLyn Haan started the fundraiser for Fishermen’s. After bringing in as many pennies, nickels and dimes as possible, the students sent a collective check for $250, along with letters of support, to Baptist Health South Florida, which bought the hospital shortly before the storm.
“Thank you. I’m sorry,” one student wrote. “We are all thinking about you,” wrote another.
Tuesday, via Skype, the students went on a tour of the temporary field hospital on the Fishermen’s property, guided by Gregory. The field hospital will be removed July 12. It’s being replaced with a 6,000-square-foot modular hospital nearby that’ll open immediately. It’s already going up and will stay there for about two years, Gregory said. In the meantime, the new 40,000-square-foot hospital will start going up.
Gregory thanked the students Tuesday and said she was grateful for the check.
“It wasn’t about the money, although every penny counts,” she told the Weekly. “It was the thought they put into this.”
The Fowlerville students aren’t the only ones sending checks.
“We recently received an $800 check from Ohio where people had hosted a dinner, then one from Virginia,” Gregory said.