Helping Joplin reopen its schools
Nearly three years after a tornado ripped apart Joplin, Mo., another sparkle of hope emerged in early January with the re-opening of three schools – two of which were rebuilt with funds from the General Mills Foundation.
It took millions of dollars to rebuild Joplin’s Soaring Heights Elementary and East Middle School – destroyed in the May 2011 tornado that killed 161 people. The General Mills Foundation contributed $100,000 toward the rebuilding of these schools.
Teresa Adams, principal of the resurrected Soaring Heights Elementary School, commended General Mills.
“At the 2012 groundbreaking, we were beginning down the long and challenging road to recovery,” says Adams. “Today, I walk through our beautiful new school and see firsthand how the generosity of General Mills is making a lasting impact on our kids. We are so thankful that companies like General Mills were willing to take this journey with us and help make our new school possible.”
More than 800 children attend the two schools, which reopened on Jan. 9.
Soaring Heights Elementary and East Middle School were among 10 school district buildings damaged or destroyed in Joplin, a city of about 50,000.
East Middle School was only two years old when it was destroyed, and has been rebuilt on its former site. Today, the two schools are next to each other and share an auditorium and kitchen.
General Mills has been a longtime supporter of the city of Joplin, home to our 450-employee plant that makes frozen dough products for retail and food service customers. The Joplin facility has been part of General Mills since 1976 when Pillsbury purchased Fox Deluxe Foods. The General Mills acquisition of Pillsbury was completed in 2002.
Wherever General Mills has a U.S. manufacturing facility, the company creates “community action councils,” which enlist our employees to partner with the General Mills Foundation.
Tabitha Morris, an administrative assistant for the Supply Chain team, is among the eight members of our Team Joplin Community Action Council. She says that General Mills has teamed with the school district on a number of endeavors.
“Through the years, our council has been involved in so many efforts to help the school district,” says Tabitha. “We will continue to support Joplin’s schools, and plan to work closely with its volunteer coordinator to remain connected to the district’s needs.”
In January, the General Mills Foundation provided a $20,000 grant for the Joplin Schools Snackpack program that provides nutritious snacks sent home each weekend for more than 300 children in need.
In another tornado-related assistance program, the Team Joplin Community Action Council donated $800 to refurbish a kindergarten classroom at a school damaged by the tornado. Team members also volunteered by sorting clothing and school supplies donated to help people and schools affected by the 2011 storm.
C.J. Huff, superintendent of Joplin Schools, praised General Mills for its longtime support.
“When a company like General Mills supports local programs like Snackpack or sends employees as volunteers for local projects, it sets an amazing example for our kids and our community,” says Huff. “Our kids see and often experience the benefits of this social responsibility. In turn, they grow up to be better community members and employees – the type of employees that help companies like General Mills succeed.”