Elvin Hill lends a hand

Published 2:42 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Principal Jackie Ergle, left, accepts a donation for a new playground from Carol Hill on May 17. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)


While the Elvin Hill Elementary School children were enjoying snow cones and games during field day, they were also contributing to a new playground for tornado-stricken Phil Campbell Elementary in Phil Campbell.

Carol Hill, wife of Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, came up with the idea to raise money for a new playground after watching newscasts of tornado damage.

“I saw it on TV where they interviewed the (Phil Campbell) principal. She was torn up about losing her school and teacher and students,” Hill said.

Hill presented her idea to help to Elvin Hill Elementary, and the school responded enthusiastically.

“It was in conjunction with field day,” she said. “Phil Campbell lost their playground. They were in need. They lost a second grade teacher and two students. It just stole my heart. I knew our students were about to have fun, and all the fun was gone for Phil Campbell.”

Hill named the fundraising efforts, “FUNds for Phil Campbell elementary,” and sent letters home to parents. She set up a booth at Elvin Hill’s field day, and watched the children’s generosity abound.

“The goal was $500 to help with a piece of equipment,” Hill said. “We wanted to give them a boost and let them know someone was thinking about them.”

The children of Elvin Hill surprised Hill with their abundance of generosity. Hill said when she was finished collecting donations, she was $57 short of $1,000. She then approached the elementary school’s namesake, her 93-year-old father-in-law, Elvin Hill, for the remaining $57. He agreed readily, and Hill was able to double her donation to Phil Campbell Elementary.

Phil Campbell Elementary principal Jackie Ergle’s eyes filled with tears as she received stacks of hand-written cards and a donations for a new playground from Hill.

“Everyone’s been so kind. People across the U.S. have been asking how they can help,” Ergle said, “but they (Elvin Hill) know what’s important to children.”

Ergle said the school lost a second-grade teacher, a third-grade student and a fourth-grade student to  the devastation of the tornadoes, and the opportunity for the children to play is a great release.

“I could tell you so many heart-wrenching things,” Ergle said as she described how fearfully the children reacted to a small thunderstorm after experiencing the tornadoes.

“Our school has the saying ‘Hand in hand, together we can,’ and I believe God’s work through children has a tremendous outpour,” Ergle said. “I’ve learned what care and love mean.”