The Westerville City School District is prepared with emergency items in the event of a crisis.

The community has donated the supplies to the schools, including 700 "Go Buckets" to 24 schools for emergencies.

Each bucket will equip classrooms with various items from first aid and safety supplies to food and sanitary products.

The initiative was led by the Westerville Division of Police and the School Solutions Network, a social enterprise of the Westerville-based company Status Solutions.

"Teaming up with the Westerville Division of Police on this initiative was a natural fit," said Danielle Myers, Status Solutions general manager. "Both at Status Solutions and through our social enterprise, the School Solutions Network, we stress that both preparedness and being proactive are key in any incident or situation. More importantly, this task shouldn't fall solely on the schools, it takes a community."

After items were put together by about 40 volunteers on Oct. 20, Lindsay Bannister, Status Solutions community engagement coordinator, said there was a great outcome.

"It was a huge project," she said. "To my knowledge, Westerville City Schools is the only district in central Ohio to have a Go Bucket in every classroom."

Bannister said she met with Lt. Ron McMillin of the Westerville Division of Police earlier about the project.

"They asked for help on this," she said. "We agreed to help them with it. Ever since, I've been coordinating with local businesses and nonprofits for this project. I and my team of four liaisons were able to pull together everything necessary."

She said the value of the buckets and their contents is estimated at $32,000. Status Solutions donated more than $20,000 to fund Go Bucket supplies and OhioHealth donated $5,000, Bannister said.

The Go Bucket project originated in 2016 from Westerville North High School student Thomas Armstrong, who had participated in the Franklin County Sheriff's Office Volunteers in Public Safety Support program.

He conceptualized the idea and worked with his school's resource officer, Adam Dross, and Principal Kurt Yancey to bring his idea to fruition for every classroom at Westerville North.

Now, with the help of Westerville police and the School Solutions Network, the initiative has the local support and donations needed to scale community-wide.

"The Go Bucket is a simple tool to help schools during a high-stress time," McMillin said. "During a natural disaster or lockdown situation, the last thing students and staff should be worried about are their basic needs -- food, water, first aid, and so on.

"Thanks to the generosity of our project partners and community support, we can now proactively address those needs with Go Buckets," he said.

Westerville Superintendent John Kellogg said he can't say enough about the partnership the district has with first responders and the generosity of the business community.

"We knew of the work being done to make this a reality at Westerville North, which we found to be a really helpful, thoughtful project," he said. "But when the Westerville Division of Police and School Solutions Network stepped up to bring Go Buckets into every classroom across the district, it exceeded our expectations. We're extremely grateful for their foresight, enthusiasm and drive to spread this initiative throughout our schools."

Volunteers from the Westerville Citizens Police Academy, executive staff of OhioHealth, a team of four from Status Solutions and some Westerville South High School honor society students assembled the buckets, which were donated by Lowe's, at Westerville South's auxiliary gym.

"We assembled for two-and-a-half hours," Bannister said. "It was amazing to see the community come together. It's an interesting thing to put together something you hope you don't have to use, but we were glad to do it."

While Status Solutions would like to support other school districts like Westerville, Bannister said, they want to help them improve the overall awareness and safety.

"With other schools, we're trying to help them with safety technology," she said. "We're located in Westerville. We're going the extra mile for Westerville schools. Go Buckets are in the name of school safety and was worth our effort and contributions."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla