Shelby County students help Enterprise victims: Benefit concert raises more than $20k

After a March tornado destroyed Enterprise High School and much of that town, area schools found various ways of offering support.

In one of the largest local fundraising efforts, choirs from Spain Park, Oak Mountain and Homewood high schools, along with Berry and Homewood middle schools, combined for a benefit. The special concert, held at Samford University, raised more than $20,000.

Ed Cleveland, choral director at Oak Mountain High School, said he and several of the other participating directors are close colleagues of John Baker, choral teacher at Enterprise High School. Baker lost three students in the tornado.

&8220;We could see [that] when they start over, they&8217;re going to need a lot of stuff,&8221; Cleveland said. &8220;We all know John, and we all wanted to do something to help; we just didn&8217;t know what.&8221;

Cleveland said Gia Graddy of Spain Park suggested they do what they do best &8212; perform.

Students from the five schools sold tickets for $10 each and sang &8220;one group right after another,&8221; he said. One of Baker&8217;s sons, a professional performer, also sang and offered greetings and thanks on behalf of his father.

Cleveland was glad to help his friend and the Enterprise community, but also realized the benefit did more than just raise money.

&8220;I think the kids learned about giving a little bit of themselves. This was a time to stop and give back &8212; give something back to the people that have suffered. They gladly did it.&8221;

Principal Karen Mitchell of Shelby Elementary School also saw the tragedy as a powerful teaching tool.

&8220;Anytime there&8217;s been an incident or something like this, we&8217;ve tried to help out because we want to teach our children to help other people,&8221; Mitchell said.

Students, parents and faculty from Shelby Elementary raised $400 for the Enterprise Tornado Fund.

Other schools raising money and support include Elvin Hill Elementary School, which gathered boxes of supplies, and Pelham High School, which &8220;Paws for a Cause&8221; event raised $3,775.

Also, Valley Intermediate School raised $500 by selling stylish dog tags, and Vincent Middle/High School sent $384, donated by faculty and students, to Enterprise High