FRONTENAC — Area principals have connected to a school district in Houston which was affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey, Frank Layden Elementary School Principal Courtney McCartney connected with a principal group which was trying to help people affected by the hurricane.

McCartney is part of a group called Moms as Principals and within this group she learned of Principals Helping Principals, a group which had created a form to connect principals to other administrators in schools which were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

McCartney signed up her school and was connected to a school in the Katy Independent School District in Houston. Approximately 15,00 students and 2,600 employees of Katy ISD were impacted by the storm.

She began to communicate with Schmalz Elementary School Principal Jaime Shipley at the beginning of September.

The Katy ISD is much larger than Frontenac’s and to help make sure every student has an opportunity to connect McCartney reached out to the Pittsburg School District’s elementary principals.

“I reached out to them because the school there is such a massive group,” she said. “I wanted to see if they would want to do something too.”

Three of the schools in Katy ISD had extensive damage and some students had to be relocated to other buildings to continue on with the school year, McCartney said. Shipley’s school started back on September 11.

“It is hard to imagine the damage as large as Houston is,” she said.

McCartney said the schools will begin pen palling in Schmalz Elementary School.

“This will help build relationships, where they can ask about life in Texas versus Kansas — a glimpse outside their environment,” she said.

“Yes, we can send gift cards and donate, but how do kids really understand what happened?

“After a horrific event, what their family gone through especially kids — and all the things the adults are having to go through — kids have trauma just as well. This gives them a chance to learn how to help and accept help when in need.”

McCartney said she has been coordinating with Schmalz Elementary PTA to help raise money and gift cards for the families.

“This will help replace personal items they lost,” she said. “Sometimes it’s personal things and basic needs they need — that’s what we want to help them with.”

McCartney said the community is welcome to join in on the fundraiser and to drop off gift cards which could be a Wal-Mart card, Target card, Visa or MasterCard or even monetary donation at the elementary school’s office. McCartney said she plans to wrap-up the fundraiser on September 29.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on twitter @pittstephpotter.