BY CHRISTINE WOLFF
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NEW RICHMOND - Though the Ohio River Flood of '97 didn't touch the village's hilltop schools, money is arriving from around the state to help the district's students.
To contribute, mail donations to Flood Relief Fund, New Richmond Exempted Village School District, 212 Market St., Third Floor, New Richmond 45157.
The unsolicited donations - $8,873.49 so far - have surprised school officials. But they are welcomed in a district where schools shut down for seven days in March after floodwaters forced families to evacuate much of the village.
The money has come from as far as churches in northeast Ohio - which sent $1,225 - to as close as neighboring school districts such as West Clermont and Loveland.
''We're very pleased,'' said Superintendent Larry Grooms. ''We don't even know how these people decided on using the schools as a recipient ... why they chose us over the Red Cross or something.''
A $1,600 donation from Glen Este Middle School students and staff went specifically to New Richmond Middle School. Glen Este officials ''wanted the kids to be able to identify'' with the people they were giving to, said Gary Schulte, Glen Este's principal.
Glen Este students who presented the donation toured the village's riverside streets to view the damage left by 9 feet of brown water.
''New Richmond is right over the hill from us,'' Mr. Schulte said. ''It was a good lesson. Our kids really jumped in and helped.''
At New Richmond Middle, about one-fourth of the school's seventh- and eighth-graders were flood victims, said Principal Michael Kelly. ''Requests for the money are starting to come in,'' Mr. Kelly said.
On the advice of the state auditor, the district set up a fund for the donated money. School-age children affected by the flood are being identified, and vouchers will be issued to be used at area merchants for such items as school supplies, shoes, clothing and eyeglasses.
New Richmond schools also have received $20,000 for flood relief from the Neediest Kids of All, a local charitable group.