Second Responder® program helps Alabama tornado victims

Kids In Need Foundation helps teachers and their students affected by Tornadoes in Lee County, Alabama

The Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) Second Responder® program provided relief to schools and families hurt by the deadly tornado that ripped through Alabama in early 2019. School supplies and books helped students find safety and comfort in their schools as they tried to restore their lives back to normal.

MINNEAPOLIS – April 15, 2019The weather this spring has been unpredictable and caused destruction throughout the United States. We saw rapid snow-melt across the Northern Plains resulting in widespread river flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi river systems.

On March 3rd, there was a tornado outbreak that blasted its way across portions of southeastern United States. Over the course of six hours, a total of forty tornadoes touched down. Twelve tore through Lee County, Alabama, the worst one being a fatal EF-4 with 170 mph winds, causing the loss of 23 precious lives, including four children. This storm was the deadliest March tornado to hit Alabama since March 21, 1932.

As first responders moved onto the scene to help search through debris and assess damage, our Second Responder® team immediately reached out to the community. Thankfully, most of the life-critical services were able to be restored quickly, but as Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) often finds to be the case, media coverage moved on to other stories while the schools still needed support.

Not only did the Lee County community experience personal losses, classrooms, teachers and students were also affected. When students and teachers experience losses in their homes and families, it can be incredibly hard to return to school when other parts of their lives are still in turmoil.

This is where our Second Responder® program comes in. This program was created to assist in getting schools what they need to create safe spaces where life can be normal, even just for that middle part of the day. Students can have the comforting routine of learning and don’t need to worry about supplies for their class, because of what Kids In Need Foundation, along with our Second Responder® partners, gives them.

We were fortunate to connect with and offer help to one school in particular, East Smiths Station Elementary School, in Lee County, AL. When the school reopened, and teachers and students returned to their classrooms, we worked behind the scenes at our foundation’s warehouse in Minnesota to send them a shipment of supplies.

As East Smiths Station’s Elementary classrooms received their shipments, and unpacked boxes, we were able to help to create a space for learning and to bring back a bit of a normal routine to their school day. “Following a natural disaster, students returning to school brings a sense of normalcy back to a community,” said Dave Smith, Executive Director, Kids In Need Foundation. “We were pleased to provide school supplies to Lee County so students could return to the classroom feeling prepared to learn and succeed.”

And as the unpacking continued, the teachers began to take photos of students with their new supplies. Pictures after picture kept pouring in. We wanted to share their story and photos with you, so you could see the pure joy of students and how meaningful it was for them to be given supplies. Some children were so eager to receive books, they couldn’t even wait until they got back to their classrooms before cracking open the spine. One mom, Jennifer Lynn, shared this heartwarming story, “My daughter is in the special education class at East Smiths Station, she came home with one of the books last week, and has been sleeping with it! Thank you so much!”

Through our Second Responder® program, we are the only national nonprofit organization to have resources to help provide school supplies after natural disasters occur. We are thankful to have partnered with Yoobi, Sparkle, Scholastic Book Fairs, and our national sponsor, Dollar General Literacy Foundation to bring school supplies to teachers and their students who were affected by the tornadoes in Lee County, Alabama. When natural disasters take place across the country, Kids In Need Foundation remembers the schools.  

This radar image from the National Weather Service shows the severity of the tornadoes that tore through Lee County, AL

Kids In Need Foundation in Minnesota ships school supplies to East Smiths Station Elementary School in Lee County, AL

Students from Mrs. Pless’ class are excited about their Scholastic books and Yoobi supplies!

Students from East Smiths Elementary, AL with their colorful Yoobi supplies.

These 1st graders are smiles with their new Scholastic books!

Mrs. Rogers Class with their Yoobi supplies.

Mrs. Sparks 3rd graders were so excited to receive their new books, they just had to read them right away!

Ms. Ray’s class finds a quiet time to read their new books from Scholastic.

These 5th and 6th grade teachers are happy with their awesome Sparkle donation!

To learn more about KINF’s help with natural disaster relief efforts, visit KINF’s Second Responder® relief page:


About The Kids In Need Foundation

The Kids In Need Foundation’s mission is to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. The Kids In Need Foundation, a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1995, has distributed $1 Billion in school supplies since the Foundation’s inception; and benefitted 6.2 million students and more than 200,000 teachers in 2017. For more information, visit, and join us on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram: @KidsInNeed

Other ways to give:

Start a school supply drive in your community > Host an online fundraising campaign > Learn about Volunteer Opportunities >

When families struggle financially, school supplies just can't be a priority. In 2018, we directly supported more than 6 million students with new supplies.

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