Friday, March 7, 1997
School bus drivers sidelined
from regular duties, but active

They are sparkplugs
in relief efforts

The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEW RICHMOND - They dole out food for hungry volunteers and refugees, and lend a sympathetic ear.

They help transport the flood-stricken and their belongings to higher ground, stock the gymnasium with donations, and shop for sundries and videos to keep children occupied.

A dozen bus drivers for New Richmond schools have become the dynamos of the volunteer effort in this village where 85 percent of the residents have been run out of their homes by the Ohio River.

''I figure most of the kids that ride my bus were up here anyway,'' said Terri Stroop, 41, of Monroe Township. ''I figured I've got to come do something for them.''

Mrs. Stroop has played many roles since Tuesday - from baking cookies for rescue workers to drumming up donations of $600 in supplies from Bigg's in Eastgate.

On a whim, she dropped into the teacher's credit union Wednesday, begged $25 in contributions, then went back to the store to buy videotapes to help homeless children battle the boredom at the American Red Cross shelter here.

Barb Barger and Denise Evans visited a local church Thursday morning to pick out clothing for a flood victim who was ''too embarrassed'' to go on her own.

''She is heavy and didn't think they would have anything that would fit her. So we went up for her. We came back with pants and other things,'' Mrs. Barger said.

Many of the bus drivers are working at least half the day at the shelter. Some of their time is spent just listening to flood victims' stories, Mrs. Barger said.

Many in the crew were planning to spend their down time Thursday at home cooking up batches of beans, corn bread and chili to feed the hundreds working and sleeping at the shelter today.

''We do anything that needs to be done,'' said Kathy Borchers, who lives in New Richmond on a hill above the evacuated area.

''The village is your family.''