Baylor community aids G.W. Carver Middle School after devastating fire

Local middle school GW Carver burnt down on July 27 and has been receiving aid from the Baylor community Audrey La | Photographer Photo credit: Audrey La

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

A fire blazed on July 27 at G.W Carver Middle School, destroying the building inside and out. Baylor students, faculty and staff wasted no time in raising aid and support for the local middle school students.

Led by Baylor Missions & Public Life and New Student Programs, multiple Baylor departments and organizations were involved in Load the Tote, a school supply drive held on campus from Aug. 16 to Aug. 21. These efforts were led by Dr. Doriann Beverly, senior coordinator of community service at Baylor.

Beverly first heard of the devastating fire after receiving a phone call from her mother, and as a Wacoan with close connections to both the Waco community and G.W. Carver Middle School, she immediately reached out to the Dean of Students at G.W. Carver Middle School, Elijah Barefield.

“I asked, ‘What can we do? What can we at the university offer in support of the students and the staff?’” Beverly said.

Beverly was then put in contact with Transformation Waco, a nonprofit that manages and operates five schools and supports community needs. Included in these five schools are G.W Carver Middle School and the school its students will be placed in this upcoming school year: Indian Spring Middle School.

Supplies donated at “Load the Tote” locations and to crew members were delivered to Transformation Waco and then donated to the students. Beverly said she and her team asked which were the most needed items on the list and delivered as best they could.

According to Beverly, the response from campus was quick and positive.

“Immediately, on campus, the response I got from people was ‘What can we do to help,’ ‘What can we give,’ ‘What can we do to donate’ or even ‘We have students who can come and help you load things,’” Beverly said. “[There’s] just this spirit of service.”

The Load the Tote drive first consisted of eight totes placed around campus to receive donations, but after so much success and requests for more totes, Beverly said the number quickly grew to 16.

In addition to donating school supplies, Baylor Missions and New Student Programs donated over 2,100 washable masks and 1,200 reusable water bottles, according to both Beverly and Baylor Missions Facebook. These specific donations made up for previous ones lost in the fire.

Other departments contributed as well, including the Office of the President, Marketing and Communications, Visit Experiences at Undergraduate Admissions and External Affairs.

As of Aug. 23, the total donations of the drive reached 2,295 packaged items, with an estimated 6,602 individual items from the packaged ones.

Other members of the Baylor community contributed their own donations. Hellen Chen, an electrical engineering graduate student, led a clothing drive that ended on Aug. 9 for the school’s resource closets, which needed restocking. Some items included new or gently used T-shirts, tennis shoes and sweatpants. This drive was promoted on Engineers with a Mission’s Instagram, a club she was a former member of that had connections to G.W. Carver Middle School students.

According to Chen, she used her own connections to the school, from peers to professors, to place totes throughout campus for the clothing drive.

Chen said something that touched her heart was “seeing how much people wanted to help given the opportunity.”

“We don’t want these tragedies to happen,” Chen said. “It is an opportunity for us to show that we do care, because we want others to know there is a love that’s greater than just within our Christian communities or Baylor communities.”

To continue supporting the students and staff of G.W Carver Middle School, students may donate to Transformation Waco’s G.W Carver Disaster Relief Initiative. Transformation Waco is accepting both electronic and mailed gift cards as well as items from the Teachers’ Wishlist dedicated to supplying teacher-specific supplies.