Around the UFT

Brooklyn school shows its warmth

The staff, including Balsamo (front row, fourth from left), deserves a cheer forThe staff, including Chapter Leader Balsamo (front row, fourth from left), deserves a cheer for its hard work. The spirit of giving is alive at PS 209 in Brooklyn! For the fourth year in a row, UFT members collected donations to provide homeless children with coats and other winter clothes at the union’s annual Thanksgiving luncheon. PS 209 in Sheepshead Bay brought in more than $1,000 — the most money ever donated by a single school to the union’s coat drive. “It just was an honor to do something to help New York City students,” said Elisa Balsamo, the school’s chapter leader and a science teacher. “This is home for us — to really help our students is a wonderful thing.” Balsamo reached out to everyone at her school, collecting donations from teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, custodians, school aides, school safety agents, school crossing guards, the school nurse and more.

Principal Frances Novellalocurcio (on stage, far left) and Chapter Leader BalsamPrincipal Frances Novellalocurcio (on stage, far left) and Chapter Leader Balsamo (on stage, far right) with 7th- and 8th-graders who contributed to the cause. Even students put in several hundred dollars. The donations helped pay for winter coats for homeless students attending the luncheon or delivered to homeless shelters throughout the city for students in need of winter clothing. Balsamo said, “It’s an opportunity for homeless children to get a brand-new coat instead of a hand-me-down.” The coat drive was spearheaded by UFT Vice President for Middle Schools Richard Mantell. “We sent out the donation requests to Wall Street and major corporations,” said Mantell. “Not one of them got back to us with even the smallest of donations. Yet the staff, parents and students from this school went above and beyond when it came to helping those children who need it most.”

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