January 2013
December 20, 2012

Locals in Action

Source: NYSUT United

Amityville Teachers Association

The Amityville TA, a graduate local from NYSUT's Local Action Project, organized a family warming center at Northeast Elementary School to offer some relief after Superstorm Sandy. Community members were able to take a break from storm recovery efforts and get much-needed items, such as clothing, canned food, bottled water, toiletries, shoes, paper goods and meal rations. The event featured a movie for kids, music and charging centers. ATA members donated many of the items. Donations also came from a local church; a local deli donated the evening's meals.

The effort was truly collaborative, said Amityville TA President Bob Claps. Nearly 70 volunteers, including ATA members, teaching assistants, monitors, administrators, substitutes, students, parent volunteers and concerned residents helped to make it a success.

Amityville Teachers Association President Bob Claps and members Christine Gambella, left, and Kristina Komsic help pass out donations of canned food items to help victims of Superstorm Sandy. Community members were also treated to music and a movie.

Amityville Teachers Association President Bob Claps and members Christine Gambella, left, and Kristina Komsic help pass out donations of canned food items to help victims of Superstorm Sandy. Community members were also treated to music and a movie.

From left, Ivelise Olivera, a member of the Amityville Committee of Educational Secretaries; school monitors Erica Brown and Kim Hargwood; Amityville TA member Lissa Varas; Northeast Elementary School Principal Pauline Collins; volunteer Amanda Hawthorne; and ATA member Colleen Kretz all pitched in to help organize the family warming center.

From left, Ivelise Olivera, a member of the Amityville Committee of Educational Secretaries; school monitors Erica Brown and Kim Hargwood; Amityville TA member Lissa Varas; Northeast Elementary School Principal Pauline Collins; volunteer Amanda Hawthorne; and ATA member Colleen Kretz all pitched in to help organize the family warming center.

Brushton-Moira TA

Not far from the North Pole, a group of teachers in Brushton-Moira once again helped make the community a more cheerful, giving place for the holidays.

Sheri LaRock, president of the Brushton-Moira TA, coordinates an Angel Tree program each year for the union to provide Christmas gifts for families in need. Each year, more community members take notice and join in. Members of the TA who are coaches also put on a toy drive.

"Some teachers serve as anonymous donors of money and other teachers are our secret shoppers," said LaRock.

Now in its 13th year, the program started out with 10 children, and has helped out as many as 64. The children's names listed on the tree are recommended by teachers and school health care professionals.

These educators then contact the parents to determine the specific needs of the children. "Word is getting out and we're growing every year," said LaRock, a third-grade teacher in this 78-member small, rural local. Angel Tree committee members go out shopping as a group on Black Friday. The district then allows committee members a day from regular duties to organize, wrap and deliver gifts while the students are at school.

Saranac Lake TA

Raising awareness joined the other "Rs" for members of the Saranac Lake Teachers Association.

Three years ago, the local started sponsoring a December event to support local businesses and donate to a charity. The effort has grown and this year 36 businesses in the North Country village and a number of employers participated, including North Country Community College. Saranac Lake TA President Melissa Devit reported 87 percent of the 300 raffle tickets sold came from SLTA members and about 200 cans of food were donated to the local food pantry.

Several union members also launched a year-long fundraising campaign to help the Leo Giblyn Elementary School in Freeport, Long Island, which was hit by Superstorm Sandy.

The school's first floor flooded, causing extensive damage to the building's library, gym and more than a dozen classrooms. Hundreds of books, materials and supplies were lost. The school's 550 students had to be moved to temporary classrooms in the gymnasiums and auditoriums of four other schools.

SLTA members Suzanne Nicholas and Karen Miemis delivered a 15-passenger van full of donated clothing and supplies.