THHS contributes to relief efforts for Sandy’s victims

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Piles of damaged belongings lie outside of houses. Photo courtesy of Michael Sanchez.

The Townsend Harris community found ways to help the citizens of New York City in its continued efforts to confront Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.

Harrisites donated items for those still dealing with the effects of the storm, and Dr. Sato’s Music Theory and Chamber Music classes packaged the donations.

“We bagged the donations and sorted them out by separating the food supplies from the clothes, and so on. We also sorted out the clothes by different sizes and by gender,” said Freshman Kellie Zestanakis.

Leanna Narain, junior, describes the next step after sorting the collection: “Ms. Sato, Ms. Verga and I took them to evacuation centers. There were a lot of donations from people. The families were grateful and kind.”

Freshman Mina Li explained that it was more difficult to find a place for the donations than it was to package them: “Not a lot of people would accept the donations.”

Alex Boychuck, senior, agreed: “They didn’t have room for everything, but they accepted some of the school supplies.”

Clubs at THHS also showed their support. The Red Cross club started a fundraiser.  “During Red Cross club, we made posters to raise awareness of the fundraiser and raised more than $400. We encouraged everyone to donate, even if they only had spare change. Many people were enthusiastic about donating, including teachers,” said Shirley Ng, senior and treasurer of the club.

Seekers, the school’s Christian club, also shared their plan to help. Lily Pan, senior, said, “Originally, we were planning to have Operation Christmas Child, which is when we pack shoe boxes, little toys and essential items for African children who are in need. But this year, we decided to hold a fundraiser for victims of the hurricane. We have envelopes and we are currently asking people to donate money.”

Amanda Rosso, senior, also a member of the club, added, “We set individual goals to raise at least $15 per person in order to make a substantial difference in the lives of those who are affected.”

Ms. Verga, teacher of music, described her experience distributing the goods donated by THHS. “I first went to the Fitzgerald Gymnasium at Queens College, but after awhile, they wouldn’t accept them anymore so I went to other local shelters at Rockaway. When I visited the shelters, I could see that they were very appreciative. When you visit the shelters, you really learn how much contributions help people. I also saw that what the families need is food more than anything else, because we had a lot of clothes to give out to people compared to the amount of food. But many families didn’t take too much food because they felt that somebody else would need it more. I think that it’s a noble characteristic that these people have. They don’t forget others in times of need.”

Dr. Sato encouraged members of the community to remember that victims of disasters such as these often need help even after the immediate aftermath of the storm.  She said, “For me, the idea of donation is a very heavy issue because I come from a country with frequent natural disasters. I think that it is a beautiful thing to collect for people who are in need. I was very surprised at the generosity of the Townsend community because there were so many donations. But personally, I feel reserved about the whole issue because people tend to forget as soon as the media stops reporting about the disasters. I think that it is crucial that we do not forget those who were affected. We should not forget, but revisit these moments in the future.”