Feature stories

Kids helping kids

Students from upstate deliver 4,000 books they collected to Sandy victims on Staten Island

Kids helping kids 1-25 Jonathan Fickies

Vanessa Stavinski, a teacher at Fulmar Road Elementary School in Mahopac, discusses the books as she passes them out to students.

Kids helping kids 2-9 Jonathan Fickies

PS 41 students read their new books.

One of the students from, teacher Allyson Fallman. Jonathan Fickies

One of the students from Fulmar Road Elementary School, with teacher Allyson Fallman, tells the Staten Island students about participating in the book drive.

When families affected by Hurricane Sandy replaced possessions that the storm destroyed, they started with necessities like clothing, furniture and appliances. Books probably weren’t high on the list.

Fortunately for students from three Staten Island elementary schools whose neighborhoods bore the brunt of the flooding, some new friends from upstate New York took care of that for them.

View the photo gallery >>

Traveling the 70 miles south in a Chevy Suburban, a minibus and a pickup truck, some students and staff from Fulmar Road Elementary School in Mahopac, a hamlet in the town of Carmel in Putnam County, arrived at PS 39 on Staten Island the morning of Jan. 31 to donate 4,000 books to students from that school and nearby PS 38 and PS 41, all on the northeast shore of the island.

“Many of our children lost their home libraries,” PS 39 Chapter Leader Florence Kane said, “so this will make a huge difference for them.”

Although Fulmer Road Elementary was closed for a week following Sandy, the school’s teachers — who, like UFT members, are members of New York State United Teachers — saw the devastation in New York City on the news and wanted to do something to help. An article about First Book, a program that helps supply new books for children in need, provided the idea; a call to the AFT led to finding the children who could use their help.

“It became our character education outreach for the year,” explained Fulmar Road teacher Allyson Fallman.

The presentation took place in the PS 39 auditorium, with the children in attendance from the three Staten Island schools sharing with the group the hardships they and their families had to deal with because of the storm.

Each of the students then received two books, with the remaining books to be distributed later to the schools’ other students. Fulmar Road teacher Kathryn Jesselli also presented two gift cards “to be used in any way you like, because we know that you lost more than books.”

UFT President Michael Mulgrew was on hand to thank the upstaters and help give out the books.

“I’m so proud of how everyone has been helping each other,” Mulgrew said. “And someday, if this happens to people someplace else, we need to remember to help them the same way.”

Micahel Mulgrew, Florence Kane and Sean Rotkowitz take part in the distribution.Jonathan FickiesUFT President Micahel Mulgrew (left), PS 39 Chapter Leader Florence Kane and UFT District 31 Representative Sean Rotkowitz take part in the distribution.

User login
Enter the email address you used to sign up at UFT.org.
If you don't have a UFT.org profile, please sign up.
Forgot your password?