Local expands efforts to assist St. John’s students

Published 10:15 am Saturday, January 19, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – Retired educator Betty Clement, 68, expanded her Warren and Leona S. Coleman Christmas Memorial charity program this year to include children of families that were victims of Hurricane Isaac.

The program, named in honor of her late parents, is a personally sponsored initiative that provides school supplies to needy children, namely the children of military families. Clement decided to include hurricane victims this year in part because of her own losses during the storm.

“I assist where there is a need,” said Clement. “I know that many people in my community are suffering. If someone is still living in a hotel or facilities such as those, I know that getting school supplies is not an easy thing.” She has been running the program annually since 2003, after the death of her father.

Eight students at from Emily C Watkins Elementary School received packages of school supplies from Clement this year. One of the beneficiaries of school supplies, 13-year-old Kaitlin Williams, said she feels blessed to have received the gift. Williams’ family was displaced during the recent storm, but they were also forced out of their home during Hurricane Katrina.  

“I currently reside in New Orleans with my grandmother. We’re almost back in our home,” Williams said. “We have two to three weeks to go for floating and skimming, then we’ll be in our home painting and adding furniture in.”

Clement runs two other initiatives in her spare time: the Tools for Schools program, which provides school supplies and uniforms to children in St. John the Baptist Parish, and the Dictionary Program, another charity effort that provides every third-grade student in St. John Parish with a dictionary. The uniform segment of Tools for School is funded with grants from Valero Energy Co.

Clement plans to run the Tools for Schools until she reaches the age of 70.

She said she will continue running the Warren and Leona S. Coleman Christmas Memorial for an indefinite amount of time.