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FMS student coordinates hurricane relief effort

Farragut Middle School eighth-grader Max Waibel saw the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the news and decided he wanted to do something to help.

On Thursday, Sept. 1, and Friday, Sept. 2, Waibel headed a water drive at FMS to collect donations for hurricane survivors. He said they collected about a quarter of a million pounds of water in two days and filled six trucks.

“I just thought we’d, everybody in the middle school, would bring maybe a small pack [of water], but it turned out everyone in West Knoxville brought large amounts of water, so it was a bigger response than I expected,” Waibel said.

Four of the six trucks filled with water went to Valdosta, Ga., where the water was airlifted into Louisiana.

Waibel said, “It makes me feel great because to watch the news and there’s a chance that somebody may be drinking water and that could be the water that you donated, it makes you feel great.”

Of the two remaining trucks, half of one truck went to Second Harvest Food Bank and the rest went to Monterrey Mushroom.

Waibel said he chose to do a water drive because he thought it would be easy to do. He called his uncle, Chad, with East Tennessee Industrial Warehouse in Etowah, to secure a truck. Then he called Pilot for an oil donation.

After a call to Richard Dalhaus, FMS principal, plans were set.

Waibel began his Thursday morning at 5:30 to prepare for people to drop off donations from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Mid-morning, everybody just started to pull in with trucks full of water, that was just amazing,” Waibel said.

Waibel’s father, Bill, said he is proud of his son and that he learned from the experience, too.

“I’m obviously very proud of his efforts. It was not only Max, it was a lot of people. “

Bill Waibel added, “There were a lot of things that I learned from the whole experience. It was pretty interesting. It made you feel that people really do want to help and it was neat to see all the good in people.”

Max Waibel said he wanted to thank the community.

“I’d like to thank a couple of people, Mr. Dalhaus, my principal, the PTSA, Chad my uncle, East Tennessee Industrial Warehouse of Etowah, Pilot, United Rentals, so many people that came, everybody that brought water and everybody that took their time to volunteer.”

He added, “This whole experience has just kind of moved you and made you more thankful for what you have.”


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