When native-New Yorker and South Summit Middle School teacher Annie Grappone saw footage of her home on the nightly news, the Queens borough where her friends and family live, she was at a loss. Before long, she was hearing from loved ones about the storm and its impact, but also the ongoing outpour of East Coasters volunteering, donating, giving what they could where and when they could.
"My family and friends live in Manhattan, New Jersey and Queens," Grappone said. "They were personally affected by the storm. My aunt's home flooded, and she was displaced I think that spurred me to do this. Maybe I couldn't do anything hands on, but I did the next best thing."
After a quick call to the American Red Cross, Grappone started a fundraising campaign for the South Summit Middle School. And students responded in full force, donating their time and money to the Sandy Hurricane Relief Fund over the past week. In homeroom classes, teachers set up jars to collect what students could spare. In the hallways, student council created posters advertising the campaign. Home room classes even started competing to see which grade could give the most.
The fundraiser ended Tuesday, pulling in more than $1,200 in donations to the relief efforts.
"It was an overwhelming response from the students," Grappone said. "Students from all grades kept coming up and asking me about family. These kids rallied around a cause, and have been very supportive, very interested in what is happening on the other side of the country.
According to the American Red Cross, since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, nearly 5,900 Red Cross workers have been deployed from every state. More than 3.5 million meals and snacks have been served and the Red Cross has distributed more than 177,000 relief items such as clean-up kits and hygiene kits.
"Any time you do a fundraiser, it teaches us there are people in the world who are in need," she added. "We all need to remember that there will be times in life when people need help. If we help them in their time of need, someone can in turn help us when and if we need it."
Grappone started at the middle school this year, but before joining the school district ran the Parley's Park After School program. In that position, she also got students involved, joining the Christian Center in helping provide clothes and toys to underprivileged children in the area.
To donate to the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, visit www.redcross.org/Hurricane_Aid.