Port Arthur schools distribute new uniforms

Published 7:13 pm Monday, April 23, 2018

By Ken Stickney


Port Arthur school officials Monday distributed school uniforms at four elementary campuses — Dowling, DeQueen, Tyrrell and Washington — part of a $50,000 effort to help students affected by the flood.

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Uniform distribution will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Jefferson Middle School.

“I am so appreciative of Total and all the other people for what they do for our students,” said Superintendent Mark Poterie on Monday afternoon at Washington Elementary.

Benefactors included Sake Sushi Bar, Angel by Nature, Foundation for Southeast Texas, Port Arthur Education Foundation, Total Petrochemicals, Churches Ushers Union of Colorado, ImagineKids and the Relief Gang, according to an issued statement by the school system.

Total employees were at Washington Elementary on Monday afternoon, helping with the distribution. Company spokeswoman Camille Briggs said the company donated $10,000 for uniforms.

“Basically, these are students whose families lost everything,” said Dr. Ella Williams, who coordinated the uniform distribution program. Some students, she said, remain displaced; some are bused from as far away as Beaumont to their schools in Port Arthur.

About 68 of the 350 students at Washington returned the forms required to get new uniforms, which Williams said would last students through the last day of school, June 6, and into next year.

Bryan Canfield, refinery manager who helped distribute uniforms, said, “It’s not over. It’s important that we don’t look at the beautiful weather we are having today and that everything is back to normal.”

Total employees at the school had a special bond with the Washington Elementary students. They, too, sustained flood damage at their homes and in their lives.

Kenneth Tongue, a shift supervisor, said he left his home with only two bags of clothes. Gail Labath, who works in technology, said she had 4 feet of water in her Lumberton home.

“We left with the clothes on our backs and our pets,” she said. “We are thrilled to help.”

L.O. Ardoin, a former production coordinator, had an unusual experience with the storm: His retirement party from Total was set for Aug. 31, in the midst of the flooding. Instead of a party, his home sustained more than a foot of water. He’s still rebuilding.

“It’s remarkable for companies to share like this,” he said.