The hurricanes that tore through the Caribbean in September inspired 53 schools in the Bronx to help out this fall through fundraisers involving students and the community.
“Each school has done something different,” said Nicholas Cruz, the UFT’s Bronx parent liaison who also collected donations for hurricane victims in the Caribbean and earthquake victims in Mexico at the UFT’s Bronx Parent Conference on Nov. 18. “They’ve been so generous and want to continue donating. Teachers are getting creative.”
A good example of that creativity is at PS 153 in Co-Op City.
“We have a large population of Puerto Ricans and Hispanics,” said Chapter Leader Anell Veras. After watching the devastation on the news, she knew her chapter had to do something. At the same time, Lisa Williams, a special education support specialist at PS 153, felt the same urgency: She had just traveled to Puerto Rico in August to visit her husband’s family, before Hurricane Maria destroyed the infrastructure and natural beauty. “We just want to do whatever we can to help out,” said Williams.
In early October, a flier went out to parents at PS 153: Each grade would take charge of collecting different donations. Pre-K students accepted baby food; kindergarten and 1st-graders, personal hygiene products; 2nd-graders, flashlights and batteries; 3rd-graders, water; 4th-graders, canned foods; and 5th-graders, diapers and wipes.
“Every day parents were sending things,” Veras said. Fulfilling part of their community service project, the 5th-grade students were “ambassadors,” helping to package the donated items.
By the end of October, there were about a dozen boxes filled with supplies crowding the lost and found room at the school. Cruz picked up the boxes at the beginning of November to be shipped to Puerto Rico.
“We had to give a deadline because the room was filling up,” Veras said. “I’m very proud of this community.”
Donations from members of the PS 153 community to the American Federation of Teachers’ Operation Agua, which provides water filters to residents and businesses on the island, totaled $1,500.