A 1.83 million Dirhams ($500,000) gift from the embassy of the United Arab Emirates to spend on laptops is the latest donation aimed at helping tornado damaged Joplin, Missouri as schools prepare to open next week.
School district officials said the $500,000 will help meet a goal of providing all 2,200 Joplin High School students with a personal laptop.
The UAE embassy will donate another $500,000 to match any other contributions for laptops, district officials said. Laptops will enable students to access educational resources, such as online textbooks, in the wake of the May 22 tornado that destroyed the high school and two other schools while damaging half of all school buildings.
The district has a fund-raising goal of $2.7 million for the laptops, spokesman Jim Dunn said on Wednesday. Insurance funds can be tapped for some of the funding, he said.
The May 22 tornado took 160 lives and destroyed about 30 percent of Joplin, a city of about 50,000 residents. It was the deadliest tornado in the United States in more than 60 years. Many other donations have been made to the schools since the tornado, ranging from $25 by various individuals to $250,000 and $500,000 by two families, said Melanie Dolloff, who is a volunteer helping to coordinate fund-raising for the district.
"It's overwhelming," Dolloff said. "We have had people reaching out from all over the world." The tornado wiped out the classrooms, books and supplies of 260 Joplin teachers, Dolloff added. Thousands of local students will attend classes in temporary locations in the coming school year.
Pertinently UAE has a history of donations to various charitable causes around the world.