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Mobilizing Hope for Mayfield
Toys donated within hours of Hanks’ Facebook post asking for donations for the children in Mayfield.

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky-- As the details continue to emerge about the devastation of the tornados that ravaged much of western Kentucky in the late evening hours on Friday, Dec.10, 2021, and into the morning hours of Saturday, Dec.11, 2021, we at Anderson County Schools (like most of our community) have felt more and more heavy-hearted. The images are hard to look at-- chaos and rubble where bright and bustling community life once existed. Federal agencies as well as local fire and emergency services have already been mobilized to render aid to the Mayfield, Ky. community hardest hit by the tornado.


But the human toll goes beyond the number of fatalities and the cost it will take to rebuild. There is also the loss of normalcy that takes many forms-- and all in the season we associate with joy and miracles. That’s what makes the devastation for our fellow Kentuckians so tragic. Over the last 24 hours, most of us have been following rescue efforts on the news or on social media, wondering what we can do to help.


Jerilyn Hanks, like the rest of us, was up at 4 a.m. this Saturday watching as the storm split around Lawrenceburg. Just as relief and gratitude for her family’s safety came flooding in, she saw the pictures of Mayfield. Hanks immediately thought of Mr. Anthony Hatchell and his family. 


Hatchell is the man who had (as the first principal at Martha Layne Collins High School in Shelbyville, Ky. in 2010) seen promise in her that she hadn’t seen in herself at the time and hired her as a new teacher. But, Hatchell’s name might also be familiar to many others in our Lawrenceburg community. He was both a teacher and a coach at Anderson County High School from 1988 to 1998.  Now retired, he set his roots in Mayfield with his family. As Hatchell was a difference-maker in so many lives in his time as an educator, Hanks wanted him to know that others were now thinking of him and of his community.


Hanks, herself, is no stranger to trauma. As a guidance counselor at Anderson County High School, Hanks has students come to her seeking purpose and comfort. When they do, she has a ready answer for them; it is a quote by Vince Lombardi that has resonated with Hanks her whole life: “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” And what we have right now, according to Hanks, is an opportunity-- the opportunity to show our willingness to help.


Putting her own advice into action, Hanks immediately set to work emailing the superintendents for Graves County Schools and Mayfield Independent Schools to find out what the affected children and families need most. Many of the mobilized federal and local agencies will be focused on providing basic necessities like food and winter clothing, so Hanks’ concern went straight to the children-- those who will wake up Christmas morning still expecting a Christmas miracle. The tornado may have taken their homes, but it didn’t take away their hope. Hanks is organizing a donation for those miracles and would love to see the donation of new or gently used toys, games, and clothing for children of all ages. 


Her compassion is already spreading. Hanks has had some of our Anderson County students reach out asking how they can help. “I’m hoping as of Monday morning,” Hanks optimistically proclaimed, “we’ll just start seeing things roll in to where we can fill a gym. I already have a living room full from those who have seen the post on Facebook, so I’m hopeful. Our community is made up of such amazing people. I just want to mobilize the good that’s already here.”


The people of Mayfield have suffered so much crisis that it can feel hard to grasp, even if you have a connection like Hanks does with Mr. Hatchell. Empathy doesn’t require relatability, though. What it does require are intention, passion, and initiative. Hanks has all of those. Though she doesn’t want the public recognition for it,  Jerilyn Hanks is empathy in action-- and she is inviting you to be part of that action as well. 


Anyone interested in donating items to be taken to the community of Mayfield may drop off those items at the East Wing Office of Anderson County High School by this Friday, December 17, 2021.

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The Anderson County School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities and provides equal access to designated youth groups. Inquiries may be directed to the Anderson County Title IX Coordinator, Travis Harley. He may be contacted at the district office, located at 1160 Bypass N. Lawrenceburg, KY 40342; by phone at 502-839-3406 or by email at [email protected]
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