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Within hours of the deadly tornado that took 160 lives in Joplin in May, phones were ringing off the hook with calls of people who wanted to help. One of those phone calls in the coming days was from a representative of a tiny Persian Gulf state with deep pockets and a record of philanthropy. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore talked with the superintendent of Joplin Public Schools and has this interview about a donation that came to fruition this week.
C.J. Huff says the United Arab Emirates, or UAE as it’s commonly referred to, has donated $500,000 dollars to Joplin High School so that every student can receive a new laptop computer. The donation comes through the school’s “One-to-One” Initiative. In addition to that donation, the UAE has issued a challenge donation of another $500,000, encouraging other organizations to meet that figure.
"So, at the end of the day, once that goal is accomplished, we’ll have raised $1.5 million for this One-to-One effort,” Huff said.
Huff said representatives from the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C. have been to Joplin to work with locals on what they need most.
“They’ve done their homework. They spent time in Joplin right after the storm getting a sense of the community and what the needs were, and what some of the goals were,” Huff said.
Huff said he and other Joplin officials have learned a lot about the oil and natural gas-rich country.
“They’re very philanthropic in the area of education. Education is the highest priority that they’ve placed in their government, and they’re very giving to not only other countries, but to our community,” Huff said.
The first day of school in Joplin is next Wednesday.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.