State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick started the "Maryland Kids Care" campaign to benefit hurricane victims just days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. This voluntary state effort encouraged Maryland public school students to get involved in helping those in need.

In the first few days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Maryland schools responded on at least two fronts: expediting enrollment of children who moved to Maryland in the wake of the storm and beginning a statewide fundraising campaign to help the survivors

Tomorrow state education officials will announce that the "Maryland Kids Care" fundraising project has collected more money than any similar previous aid effort.

Officials will announce the final tally during a morning ceremony at a Howard County middle school. Grasmick will make the announcement at the event, which is organized to honor students across the state for their efforts.

Nearly half of the state's 1,300 elementary, middle and high schools -- including scores of them in Southern Maryland -- participated in the fundraising campaign, which was started during the second week of the school year.

Schools and school systems collected funds throughout September, turning over donations to the American Red Cross or other organizations coordinating hurricane relief.

Grasmick began the campaign after talking with children about the hurricane during visits to elementary schools as classes resumed after summer vacation.

"It became clear that they had seen the devastation from the Gulf Coast in news reports, and that they wanted to help," Grasmick said at the time.

Calvert Students Raise $51,500

Calvert County public schools announced Friday that its students and staff members completed the first phase of their disaster relief effort Sept. 30.

As a result of their fundraising, $51,482 was donated to the American Red Cross, Calvert School Superintendent J. Kenneth Horsmon said in a statement.

The second phase of the Calvert public schools aid effort began last week. It is targeted to assist one particular elementary school in Jefferson Parish in Louisiana.

Schools will be conducting individual fundraisers, such as penny drives and benefit concerts, the statement said. All proceeds will be used to assist Woodmere Elementary School, which was heavily damaged by Katrina.

Donations can also be sent to the school system offices, addressed to Leanne Meisinger, 1305 Dares Beach Rd., Prince Frederick, Md. 20678. Checks should be written to "Calvert County Public Schools" with Woodmere Elementary Relief Fund noted on the memo line.

Scout Collects Door to Door

Zachary LeValley, a fourth-grader at T.C. Martin Elementary School, recently collected $655 in his Bryantown Hills neighborhood to aid Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Zachary, a Webelo Scout with Den 2 in Pack 900, raised the money as part of a Scouting project. He and other Scouts also collected more than $90 at a recent open house at the school.

All the funds were donated to the American Red Cross, Southern Maryland Chapter.