Joplin's 11th and 12th grade high school students are meeting in the local mall in the old Shopko department store. The Franklin Technology Center, the vocational center, is meeting in a warehouse just down the street from Cage's business.
"We need laptops, projectors, smartboards, wireless, printers, bulletin boards, classroom materials," says Cage. "Two hundred fifty teachers lost their classroom full of materials. About $1,200 per teacher is what we think it will take to reconstitute what we had." The city estimates 4,000 students from the affected area need school supplies.
Cage is hoping the technology community steps up and provides all the computers and equipment the schools need to get up and running for the new school year at the end of August. "It can't be done in two months," she said of the donations that need to come. "It has to be done now. Otherwise we won't be ready when school starts."
Hewlett Packard and Microsoft have been among the vendors who have stepped up to help the community. XChange Public Sector Attendees reached into their pockets and contributed more than $3,000 to the relief effort. And Everything Channel's parent company, United Business Media, agreed to match the donations.
Cage said financial donations can be made to brightfuturesjoplin.org.
Matt Smith, director of Americas Channel Marketing for HP, which has donated more than $200,000 in IT equipment and cash, urged all IT vendors and members of the solution provider community to come to the aid of the Joplin, Mo. community.
"We are all fierce competitors when you look at us as vendors, but we are also a community, a strong community," said Smith. "When one hurts, we all hurt. We are championing getting the community to pull together to help when one is in need."
HP is continuing with philanthropic efforts and is setting up an initiative aimed at responding to support of solution providers struck by tragedy. "We have been fortunate enough to be able to help here," he said. "We are setting up the ability to do this over and over in the future."
Smith urged members of the channel community to give whatever they can in terms of technology products or consulting resources. "It's about the strength of the channel, a healthier channel is better for everybody," he said. "We are all in this together."
Cage is asking everyone who can give to help in whatever way they can. "Money is great because with money we can buy what we need when we need it," she said.