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Students lead fundraiser for Yazoo tornado relief

They lost their mother to a tornado, but they gained 78 newfriends.

Layne, Ethan and Austin Carpenter were found in the wreckage oftheir mobile home in Yazoo City on April 24 in the arms of theirmother, Nikki Carpenter, who died shielding the 7-, 2- and1-year-old boys from the tornado that laid waste to miles and milesof Mississippi.

The loss has led the entire second-grade class at WessonAttendance Center to question their own mortality and be grateful.Now they’re trying to help the Carpenter boys get their lives backon track by raising money and donating supplies to them and thewhole Yazoo area.

“Since the incident happened in Yazoo, my children have beenreally concerned about them,” said second-grade teacher Linda RayMehri. “I told them about it, and we’ve been praying for them everyday, whether we’re supposed to or not. We decided to collect moneyfor them and take it to the bank.”

So far, the second-graders have raised $300 and deposited itinto an account in the Carpenters’ name at Copiah Bank in Wesson.They’re hoping more people will be as moved by the story and dropoff their own donations at any Copiah Bank in the state.

“We wrote a letter to the parents and asked them just to bringin their change,” Mehri said. “Their change turned into more than$300. We’re going to continue on with this. The need there is sogreat. It’s like (Hurricane) Katrina all over again.”

The Wesson kids are also urging their parents and members of thecommunity to help them donate baby food, diapers, toys and otheritems to the Carpenters, and to donate more material to the YazooCity area in general.

Mehri’s church, Beauregard United Methodist, where she serves asassociate pastor, has a truck on site people can deposit donateditems into. The truck will take its precious items to Yazoo Cityonce every two weeks, at least until the end of June.

A list of items needed in the Yazoo City area is available atCopiah Bank.

“Right now, the children are making cards for me to take toYazoo City because they insist I try to find the three little boyswhen I go up there,” Mehri said. “My children zeroed in on thesethree children because they could relate so much to them. They knowtheir mommy gave her life for them, and they wondered what it wouldbe like if they didn’t have their mommy.”