On October 22nd Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, leaving hundreds and thousands of residents without food, water, shelter, and other basic necessities. For CFK’s newest partner school P.S. 15, a community already facing numerous adversities and limited resources, the storm’s effect was devastating. Located in Zone A evacuation area, P.S. 15 experienced flood damage, power outages and limited communications (losing phone and internet connections). After days without power, families were left with no heat and limited food.
True to its mission, the P.S. 15 Change Team responded immediately – organizing a drive to collect much-needed items for the students and families [Change Teams are groups of individuals and sponsors who rally around their school to provide the resources the school needs] “You are wonderful! I can’t believe how quickly you organized this,” reacted P.S. 15 Literacy Coach, Laura Salmon, to CFK’s swift response efforts.
The CFK community responded in so many incredible ways. A few of our favorites:
- A tremendous contribution from New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes and his III & Long Foundation got the drive rolling
- Marjorie Korn and her co-workers at SELF Magazine packed up an SUV full of toiletry items and winter gear
- Our friends down South at The Village Knittery in Summerville, SC, mailed boxes and boxes of hand-knitted gloves, scarves and hats
- Similarly, our friends on the West Coast, Maureen and Zach Papale, delivered over 90 pounds of pantry and baby items
- The Churchill School enabled us to extend the drive to a second awesome day, donating a mountain of clothing and canned foods
- The Gateway Schools conquered Board member Louise Forbes’ Yukon, filling it to the brim with hundreds of coats, hats and other winter gear (you can check out their results in the nifty graph their students produced)
- And if we needed any more inspiration – Principal Vivian Bueno, at CFK’s Bronx partner school P.S. 73, reached out to her staff to donate funds to their “sister school in need”
I spoke with many of P.S. 15′s parents, teachers and students during the collection drop-off days, but the story shared by one mother in particular reminded me why this work matters. She and her children were without power or heat for over a week. The longstanding power outage forced her to throw out over $300 of food and without a working EBT card (since the neighborhood stores all lacked power to run the debit card machines) she was unable to purchase more. She struggled to explain to her hungry son why they didn’t have food. She told me how hard it was to maintain her composure in front of her son so he wouldn’t worry. But in reality, the frustration and uncertainty was devastating to her.
For me, this was the moment I realized the difference a CFK Change Team can make. CFK’s commitment to these children goes beyond their promise to offer educational opportunity. As partners, they also rally their community to assist with their schools’ most immediate needs. In this case that meant providing over 80 families with food, warm clothing, blankets and other items when they were needed most. For more information on how you can join a Change Team and make a difference your in NYC community, click here.