Children at Brooklyn Avenue School have been in the giving spirit lately, ensuring that needy families in the community had a good Thanksgiving and helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The school’s annual food drive was a success, said Principal Dr. Scott Comis. Not only did students bring in non-perishable food items such as soup and canned vegetables, but staff members donated more than $800 to buy turkeys. The contributions went to nearby Grace United Methodist Church.
Students who brought in food were able to wear their pajamas to school on Nov. 16 as a reward. “It was a fun way to get the children involved in a very meaningful activity,” Comis said.
The school always collects food to help give local families a happy Thanksgiving. However, this year some of the donations went to help families that were displaced by the hurricane and are now living in the district. Jo-Anne Casucci, the school social worker, said some new students have joined Brooklyn Avenue School because they are staying with family in Valley Stream while their homes are repaired. Most of those children have come from hard hit areas such as Island Park, Oceanside and Far Rockaway.
Comis said those students have fit in well at Brooklyn Avenue. “I’m happy to say they’ve been welcomed by the school and all have made friends quickly,” he said.
Brooklyn Avenue School students say they are happy to help. Fifth grader Jessica Sierzega said she can’t imagine losing her home. She brought in tomato sauce and cans of beans for those in need.
Her classmate, Christina Hillery, donated some cans of tuna, peaches and corn. “It’s just a nice way to say ‘I want to help you,’” she said. “I really feel bad for the people who lost their homes. I would be really upset if I lost everything.”
Fifth-grader Evan Miller was also conscious about doing a good deed for others. “It’s nice to help them,” he said. “If you don’t help them out, it’s kind of selfish.”
“People are in need,” added sixth-grader John Cataldo, who brought in cans of corn and soup for the food drive. “Those people don’t have as much as we do.”
Members of Grace United Methodist Church said they were pleased with the donations from the school. They noted that because of the storm, they were already behind in collecting donations for Thanksgiving. A local Boy Scout troop was unable to do its regular food drive outside of King Kullen to benefit the church.
Theresa DiSalvo, the food drive coordinator, said the students and staff at the school helped make up the difference. “I think there’s more food than we ever got from Brooklyn Avenue School,” she said looking at a stage covered in boxes.
Comis said the food drive normally would have begun around Halloween, but school was closed for seven days because of the storm. He said he is proud of his students for gathering so much food in such a short period of time.
“Despite the delay, it was a success,” he said. “The children’s sense of giving, and the life lesson learned from this is just fantastic.”