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Coats for kids — and lots of fun, too

New York Teacher

UFT Vice President Richard Mantell (front right), the organizer of the event, he

UFT District 18 Representative Joseph Surpris works with children on their model
Jackie Herman and Tina Schneider, both teachers at IS 98 in Sheepshead Bay, have volunteered at countless UFT events. But the UFT’s annual Thanksgiving luncheon for students in homeless shelters is by far their favorite.

Looking around the room at this year’s event, which welcomed 150 students to UFT headquarters on Saturday, Nov. 19, it was easy to see why.

“When we see the looks on the kids’ faces and how happy they are and how much fun they’re having, it’s why we keep coming back every year,” said Herman, the chapter leader at IS 98. Members at the school raised enough money to donate seven new coats and nine sets of hats, gloves and scarves.

There was plenty of fun to be had before and after lunch was served as volunteers helped kids choose from a variety of crafts and games: painting piggy banks, constructing wooden airplanes and decorating butterfly keychains.

“Painting the piggy bank was my favorite because I like doing art; it’s my favorite subject in school,” said 9-year-old Kenny.

There was even a bit of pampering in the form of manicures and hairstyling provided by the cosmetology students of Queens Vocational HS.

UFT Special Representative Donna Coppola helps a youngster try on her new coat.
“There’s an energy in this room,” Queens Vocational HS teacher Andrea Lingstuyl observed as she watched her own students carefully painting tiny nails. “The kids are so happy.”

After lunch, each student had the opportunity to select a brand-new winter coat and accompanying accessories.

“Our members showed their generosity by donating more than 400 new coats and contributing about $5,500 in cash this year,” said Vice President for Middle Schools Richard Mantell, who organized the event.

Eight-year-old Jen was beaming in her new jacket, whose bright pink color matched her face paint.

“It’s super warm and I’m going to wear it all winter!” she said.

For Schneider, the IS 98 delegate, it was proof of another successful year.

“It’s amazing to see how happy they are and how free they feel,” she said. “This is the most rewarding event I’ve ever been a part of.”

NY Teacher