Elementary teacher Vanessa Staviski, a
member of the Mahopac TA, distributes
books to students during an assembly at
PS 39 in Staten Island. Her school
collected 4,000 books for Staten
Island students at PS 38, PS 39 and
PS 41who were all affected by
Photo by Jonathan Fickies.
When families replace possessions destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, chances are they start with necessities — clothing, furniture and appliances. Books probably aren't high on the list.
Fortunately for students from three Staten Island elementary schools whose neighborhoods bore the brunt of the flooding, new friends from upstate New York took care of that.
Traveling 70 miles south in a Chevy Suburban, a mini bus and a pickup truck, students and staff from Fulmar Road Elementary School in Mahopac arrived at PS 39 on Staten Island in January to donate 4,000 books to students there and at nearby PS 38 and PS 41.
"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 their school was closed for a week after Sandy, teachers from Fulmar saw the devastation in New York City on the news and wanted to help. An article about First Book, a program that helps supply new books for children in need, provided the idea.
"It became our character education outreach for the year," said Fulmar teacher Allyson Fallman, a member of the Mahopac Teachers Association.
Several students from all three Staten Island schools attended the book presentation in the PS 39 auditorium. They shared stories about the hardships they and their families have endured because of the storm.
The students each received two books; the remainder were later distributed to the rest of the student bodies. Fulmar teacher and Mahopac TA member Kathryn Jesselli also presented two gift cards to be shared among the three schools "because we know that you lost more than books."
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers in New York City and is NYSUT's largest local, helped hand out books and thanked the Upstaters.
"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."