Jordyn Gropper was sitting in her family and consumer science class at William Chrisman High School Monday glued to footage of the destruction in Joplin, Mo.

Jordyn Gropper was sitting in her family and consumer science class at William Chrisman High School Monday glued to footage of the destruction in Joplin, Mo.

Shortly after, teacher Karen Perry received an email from a colleague in the Joplin School District requesting donations and supplies for families who have been displaced by the tornado that has killed at least 125 people and left thousands homeless. The pictures coming out of the Missouri community of about 50,000 coupled with the email, sparked an idea among the students – an idea that has taken on a life of its own.

“At first it was just our class that came up with the idea,” said Gropper, a junior at Chrisman. “We went down to the office to get it approved, and by the next day, it had gone districtwide. It exploded overnight.”

The donation drive to help Joplin will continue until Tuesday at each of the district’s 27 schools. Items such as cleaning supplies, canned food, clothing, baby care items, personal hygiene, pet food and zip bags, as well as money, are being accepted. All of the items will be donated to the Joplin School District next week.

At William Chrisman, which has challenged rival Truman High School to see which school can donate the most, more than 1,000 items have been donated since Tuesday. In addition, about $2,200 has been raised through change buckets and other donations. Perry said she is surprised at the number of items that have been collected in such a short period of time.

“I was really shocked how quickly this project took off. We have received so many items, we had to move them from my room to another room because we were running out of space,” she said. “These kids are not wealthy kids. This is not a wealthy area. They are anxious to help and be a part of it. Many are donating more than what they have.”

Junior Reba Atchley said the collection drive took on a new meaning when students were evacuated to the basement Wednesday when tornado sirens went off in Independence.

“It was scary, especially with what just happened in Joplin,” she said. “This project is important because we haven’t experienced this here. We have seen all of the destruction, and this is something good we can do to help the people of Joplin get back on their feet.”

Perry said the Independence School District has donated a school bus to send the donations to Joplin on Wednesday. She said the donation is welcome because the cost of transportation was going to come out of the school’s FCCLA budget.

“We are so overwhelmed and thankful that so many want to participate by donating items,” she said. “Even those students that can’t donate anything want to help by volunteering. This is truly a great group of kids.”

Gropper said they still need baby supplies, pet food, water and hygiene items. She said she wants to collect as many items as people can to help those that have lost everything in Joplin.

“It feels good knowing we will have an impact on the people in Joplin,” she said. “Every penny, every item helps. This could happen to us, and we like to think that if a tornado caused this much damage here, people around the metro and the state would come to our aid.”