The Record Newspapers - Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Students ‘chair’ relief efforts


Last updated 1/7/2009 at Noon

When several family members had their homes destroyed in Hurricane Ike, Pflugerville school teacher Betty Trusty, knew they needed assistance. “I sent out an e-mail to my faculty and where I used to teach,” said Trusty. “I was just bombarded with people that wanted to help.” Sometimes, she has gone to her mailbox at school and found an envelope with money that just says, “For your family.”

Mamie Waites, the art teacher at Park Crest Middle School in Pflugerville and her art students are responsible for a large project, just completed to aid Trusty’s family. 

“She approached me and said she wanted it to be a surprise, but had some questions to ask me,” said Trusty.

Waites approached IKEA in Round Rock and wanted to buy some chairs at a discount. Her plan was to have her sixth, seventh and eighth grade art students paint the chairs then sell them. “What they wanted to do was auction them off as a fundraiser for my family,” said Trusty.

When IKEA found out what Waites planned to do, they donated 75 chairs.

“And that’s what she did,” said Trusty. “The art teacher wanted to teach the kids a life lesson, not just art. That you can take art and do good things with it. That was her main objective.

The kids wanted to reach out and do something to help my family, which I thought was very touching,” said Trusty. “They were reaching out to people they didn’t even know and I thought that was pretty incredible.”

The students spent several weeks assembling and painting the chairs under Waites direction and that of Leslie Matacio, the other art teacher. Then, they held a silent auction at each performance of the school’s production of “Mulan” in early December.

The following Saturday, Waites put $50 of her own money towards getting a booth at a local festival.

Pam Scarbo, another teacher at the school, made a tri-fold display that had pictures of Bridge City and Trusty’s family members. It also contained a letter from Karen Bergeron, Trusty’s niece. Photographs showed kids working on the chairs.

As people walked by, they knew about the project because the local paper, the Pflugerville Pflag, had written an article covering the story.

“We worked all day and made about $450,” said Trusty. The chairs brought anywhere from $30 to $110 each. “We made about $2,300 to $2,400 over all. We had UT chairs, Texas Tech chairs, A&M chairs ... they went fast,” she said.

Since the storm, Trusty and friend Dawn Kirchofer have made about four trips to the Orange County area, each time with a trailer full of items that had been donated or bought for the families.

“They are our ‘Austin angels,’ said Trusty’s sister, Peggy Dunbar, talking about Trusty and Kirchofer. “Ever since the storm,

everything they’ve done, finding things on Craig’s list ...” Trusty won’t take credit for any of that. “It’s the people there, that are so generous. They’ve given us couch sets tables ... end tables ... beds ... cookware and silverware. We just brought it here, they’re the ones that gave it,” said Trusty. “We wanted a flat bed and it gave us a reason to get one,” she said.

The two women were down with the latest load in time to spend Christmas with family.

Christmas Eve was Peggy and Ronnie Dunbar’s anniversary. Trusty always cooks them an anniversary feast.

“It’s a family tradition, Aunt Betty started years ago,” said Bergeron.

Since the storm they have come approximately every three weeks, except Thanksgiving. Each time, with a load in tow.

The Dunbars followed the women to the Austin area Saturday to bring home an entire house full of furniture that was donated by the mother of Trusty’s hairdresser and presented to Delane Navarre in Orange. Even The Record was beneficiary of two desks and a dry erase board.

“When we get moved back in, we’re going to be set for what all Betty and Dawn have done for us,” said Bergeron. “Like mom said, they have been our Austin angels. Any time we’ve had to evacuate, they have opened up their home to us, they have taken us in.”

“That’s what families are for,” said Trusty.

Bergeron, husband Danny and daughter Ashlyn expect to move back in their home in Bridge City, in a couple of weeks. Since the storm, they have been living with the Dunbars.

Trusty also brought chairs the young Pflugerville artists painted for each child in her family that was affected by the hurricane. “I made sure that all the kids that lost a home, gets a chair,” she said. She also brought a chair for her niece, Karen, who teaches at Bridge City Intermediate.

“It feels good to help people,” said Trusty.


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