Dragons Put Heads Together To Help Victims

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When Rim country residents Tauna Despain and Deana Barr heard a New York City rescue worker on TV saying some relief items were still in short supply, they sprang into action.

With the help of the 51 students attending the Payson Center for Success charter school, Despain and Barr organized an area collection effort that netted 219 pairs of work gloves, 91 flashlights, and a whole lot of batteries, canine booties, dog biscuits and face masks.

"This community was just awesome," Despain said. "They really pulled together."

Collection boxes were placed at the Payson Athletic Club, Walgreen's, Wal-Mart, Sears, Foxworth-Galbraith and the Payson Center for Success.

"Every time we went to the boxes, they were filled," Despain said.

Many Rim country residents included personal messages expressing their appreciation to those on the front line in the clean-up effort.

"What they wrote was really touching, and they leave little doubt that the Rim country is behind their efforts," Despain said.

While Sears donated boxes and KMOG provided free air time, much of the credit, she added, goes to the PCS students.

"They helped out so much by taking the packaging off all the items so they were ready to use and we wouldn't be shipping unnecessary packaging," Despain said.

PCS students also arranged the logistics of shipping the items to the rescue sites. United Parcel Service provided the shipping at no charge.

Kerry Wright, administrative assistant at PCS, said the students have become immersed in the relief effort.

"Our nickname is the Dragons, and we believe dragons should have big hearts," he said. "Each student is required to do five hours of good deeds that benefit humanity per semester, and this clearly came from their hearts. The camaraderie and spirit in our school has just been amazing the past 11 days."

PCS students also raised $655 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund through a car wash they held Friday in the Jiffy Lube parking lot, an effort spearheaded by student Sean Nitso.

"We were just swamped, and we even washed three fire trucks," Wright said.

Part of the Payson Unified School District, the Payson Center for Success is one of the few charter schools operated by a school district.

The charter schol was founded in 1996 for students 16-21 who, for whatever reason, need an educational setting which is non-traditional.

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