HICKORY, N.C. - As teachers are busy arranging their classrooms for the 2018-2019 school year, a Catawba County teacher hopes to add an essential item to every classroom in her county: an emergency bucket.
Jennifer O'Keefe, a teacher at Fred T. Foard High School, spent her summer organizing buckets filled with emergency supplies so teachers are prepared in case of a natural disaster or a lockdown.
While O'Keefe felt spurred to act following the Parkland, Florida high school shooting earlier this year, she was first exposed to the benefits of emergency buckets almost two years ago when she taught at Challenger Early College High School.
The school, along with the entire Catawba Valley Community College campus, went on lockdown back in October 2016 after reports of a gunman on campus.
She said the college provided ever teacher with buckets containing a variety of emergency supplies.
"We were in a room for about three-and-a-half hours," O'Keefe said. "[The buckets] came in very handy especially when some of the students had to use the bathroom during that time."
When she moved to Foard High School, she realized no other county schools, besides the early college high school, had access to them.
"I didn't want to go through another lockdown without one of these buckets," she said. "I want to make sure that all of the other teachers in the county as well."
She plans to arrange a total of 960 buckets, with the help of crowdfunding and donations from local businesses.
The buckets include feminine hygiene products, door stops as makeshift barricades and food for students with diabetes.
"Screwdriver set, got a small hammer, and I have some paracord," O'Keefe said. "There's some rulers in here that can be used to make a splint."
She's asking the community to help her raise money to purchase more supplies by donating to her GoFundMe page, which can be found here.