Pen Pal Class Raises Money for Oklahoma Students Devastated by Tornadoes

By Jennifer Abbey

Jun 14, 2013 8:19pm

As a tornado hovered over Briarwood Elementary School in Moore,  Okla., 5th grade teacher Robin Diedzik huddled with her students in a school bathroom.

“It’s almost over. It’s almost over,” she promised the children.

Weeks before the tornado hit, students at the Martin Luther King School in Edison, N.J., had written to other schools across the country. Akhilash, a fifth grader, chose Briarwood Elementary.

The day before the tornadoes hit, a large envelope arrived at Akhilash’s school with responses from those very 5th graders who would be huddled in the Oklahoma school bathroom.

abc briarwood elementary wy 130614 wblog Pen Pal Class Raises Money for Oklahoma Students Devastated by Tornadoes

                                          (ABC News)

“Dear Akhilash. Hi, I’m Cambry,” one letter said. “I live in Oklahoma City, Ok., and go to Briarwood Elementary.”

“I go to Briarwood Elementary and we call ourselves the Briarwood Bears,” another said. “My teacher’s name is Mrs. Diedsik. She’s so nice.”

Suddenly, that tornado hit, leaving its marks at the school. So the New Jersey students started a drive to raise money and buy gifts to replace lost belongings for the students who wrote them.

The students picked out stuff that they liked, thinking the students at Briarwood would like it too. Diedzik and three of her students who lost their homes opened gifts including a Harry Potter box set, a pillow pet and some lip gloss.

Fifth grader Isaiah asked for a Barbie for his sister.

As for Akhilash, he learned that the teacher he had written to was the one protecting her children from a massive tornado. What would he tell Mrs. Deidzik now?

“I’d say you’re very brave, very strong,” he said.

ABC News’ David Muir and Christine Romo contributed to this report.

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