North Carolina News

NC teacher assembling 'emergency buckets' for school lockdowns

CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A Cabarrus County teacher wants to make her classroom, and classrooms across the county, safer during a lockdown.

“I can’t change legislation, I can’t provide funding for schools to make this happen, or put more resource officers in schools,” Jennifer O’Keefe of Foard High School says. “But this is something that I can do right now.”

O’Keefe says the most nerve-racking part of a school lockdown is having to be prepared for anything.

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“It’s very scary to think about all the steps you have to go through to make sure you’re protected, and your students are protected,” she says.

Protected, and comfortable, for what could be several uncertain hours.

“It’s scary,” she says. “I really can’t put it into words.”

At her last school, O’Keefe was provided an emergency bucket, with things like granola bars, duct tape and door stops, just to name a few items.

They are things that could help in a health scare, natural disaster, or in case of an intruder.

“I kind of thought, if the school can’t provide them, I’m going to do that,” she remembers thinking after the Parkland Florida school shooting in February.

With no school funding available for county-wide buckets, O’Keefe is planning to make it happen on her own by the start of the school year.

“I did not want to go through another lockdown without the bucket,” she says.

O’Keefe says lockdowns were not top of mind when she first began teaching, but now, she sends messages to her family every time.

“Telling them that I love them,” she says. “Just to make sure that they know, if that’s the last time I get to tell them.”

She says this is the reality now, and she wants all teachers to be prepared.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we all get out of here,” she says.

O’Keefe is relying on donations to make these buckets happen by the start of school.

O’Keefe is having a supply drive at the Walgreens on Springs Road from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, July 21.

Items she is looking for include:

  • Water pouches
  • Glow sticks
  • Non-perishable food
  • Trash bags
  • Door stops
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Small cups
  • Travel size Kleenex
  • Mechanical pencils
  • 550 Parachord
  • Ace bandage
  • Curve jaw locking pliers
  • 4-1 screwdriver set
  • Flat pry bar
  • Hammer
  • 12” wooden rulers
  • Toilet paper
  • Tourniquet
  • Cloth cover fabric
  • Duct tape
  • First aid kit
  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Bucket emergency toilet seat

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