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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An outpouring of support for L.B. schools
Former residents, locals and companies donate supplies
By Alexandra Spychalsky
Alexandra Spychalsky/Herald
Students from West School and Long Beach Middle School picked up new backpacks filled with school supplies that were donated by a former Long Beach resident.

Long Beach students headed to school this week with new backpacks, notebooks and supplies, thanks to the generosity of people 1,200 miles away.

“Let’s help these kids get a little sense of normalcy back,” said Mary Noonan, a Long Beach native who helped organize the donations.

On Monday, about 70 backpacks filled with school supplies were distributed to district parents and students in the Long Beach Catholic Regional School parking lot. It was just one of many relief efforts for the school district held over the past few weeks. Aid has come from local organizations as well as large corporations.

West Elementary PTA President Dorothy Byrne said she is humbled by all of the donations coming in. Other school districts, like Mineola and Huntington, have donated everything from school supplies and toys to hats and hygiene kits. At the Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, the board accepted a donation from Staples that included thousands of classroom supplies. And on Amazon.com, a “school book wish list” has been started for West Elementary School, to restock the classroom libraries.

“Help is coming from everywhere, so we’re grateful and appreciative,” said Byrne.

Noonan, who now lives in North Port, Fla., gathered donations in her community in memory of her late husband, Michael, a former captain of the Point Lookout Lido Fire Department and a retired New York City paramedic.

After Sandy struck, Noonan was devastated to hear what was happening to her family and the community. “I felt so hopeless and so lost that we couldn’t help,” she said.

With the significant presence of the American Red Cross and the National Guard in the area, Noonan said she knew people were receiving necessities such as food, water and blankets. She decided to focus on children.

Classes resumed in the city on Nov. 13. But with West School, Lido Elementary and Long Beach Middle School still closed and lockers condemned, many students lost all of their belongings. “Everything you can imagine is gone,” said Byrne. “There were hazmat suits in [West Elementary School].”

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