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Chester County Press

‎Unionville High School reaches out to Texas school damaged by Hurricane Harvey

09/05/2017 10:42AM ● By J. Chambless

Water was knee-deep at the middle school in the Hardin-Jefferson School District last week.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

Unionville High School's Friday night football game will be more than just another competition. It will be a benefit for a school that was hit hard by the flooding in Texas last week.

On Sept. 1, Unionville principal Jim Conley sent an email to the school community to outline the relief effort.

“As you may already know, Unionville High School has partnered with the Hardin-Jefferson School District in Sour Lake, Texas,” Conley wrote. “The Sour Lake Community was hit extremely hard by Hurricane Harvey. We will have a series of fundraising opportunities for our community, throughout the school year, in order to provide our extended family in Sour Lake with whatever support that they will need. The upcoming months will be difficult for the Sour Lake community, but I know that the kindness and generosity of our UCFSD families will be felt by the Hardin-Jefferson families.

“Our UHS family is thrilled to kick off our fundraising efforts on Sept. 8, as our football team hosts Avon Grove High School at 7 p.m. We are excited that Avon Grove will also be joining us in our fundraising efforts this Friday. The Hemmert family – Dawn Hemmert, her husband, Jack, and their three daughters -- were longtime Avon Grove residents.”

Conley shared an update from Belinda McDermand, the secretary for the Superintendent of Hardin-Jefferson ISD, that read, in part, “Thank you just seems so inadequate for what your school and community are doing for us. This kind gesture will go a long way for our teachers and staff to get back to a somewhat normal life. The school board meet in an emergency meeting and voted to not do renovations on the middle school but to build a new campus. We had flood insurance of $1.5 million and the estimate for restoration was $10.5 million. Administrators are working on an immediate plan to get students back to school until portable buildings can be purchased.”

McDermand sent photos of the middle school after the flooding, showing knee-deep water surrounding and flooding the building. The high school, which is on higher ground, was not flooded, although its athletic fieldhouses and sports storage areas were flooded.

Last week, Dawn Hemmert wrote in an email, “My friend, Michele Conley's husband, Jim Conley, is the principal at Unionville High School in Chadds Ford, Pa. Jim contacted me yesterday letting me know that Unionville High School wants to help the Hardin Jefferson community and would like me to assure you that more help is on the way. Unionville High School is going to be our sister school all year long, until we are on our feet again. They will be putting our logos on their football uniforms and helmets for the entire year. Jim also had a meeting with my old school district, Avon Grove School in Pennsylvania, and they'd like to get involved, too. At the Unionville football game this Friday night, when they play Avon Grove, there will be a video about Hurricane Harvey and its impact on our community. They will be setting up a station to donate gift cards and give cash donations to help Hardin Jefferson. This is just the beginning of what they are going to do for us.

“I got in touch with our Hardin Jefferson administration, and they have been discussing all of our needs that Unionville can assist us with,” Hemmert continued. “Words cannot express how thankful we are for another school district that has no affiliation with HJ to reach out and be willing to sponsor our school for this next year. This act of kindness will be helping our HJ friends and families directly! I hope this brings some positivity to our community!”

Conley wrote in his note to Chester County families that, “At this time, we are only accepting cash donations and/or gift cards from the following outlets: Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Ace Hardware, JC Penney, or Amazon. We will have a collection table set up near the ticket booth on Friday evening, so please be sure to stop by!”

On Friday, the school district announced that Exelon has signed on as a sponsor for the relief effort. "As part of Exelon's commitment to improving the quality of life for people in the communities where we live, work, and serve, we are extremely proud to partner with Unionville and Avon Grove High Schools with a donation through the 'Exelon Touchdowns for Texas' program," the company announced in a press release. "For the upcoming Unionville vs. Avon Grove football game being held on Sept. 8, Exelon will donate $10,000 plus an additional $1,000 for every touchdown scored by either team. In addition, Exelon will supply and sell T-shirts with 100 percent of the sales proceeds applied to the fundraiser that benefits the Hardin Jefferson School District in Houston, Texas."

For updated information about the continuing fundraising efforts, visit

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].