When news broke about the devastation that Hurricane Harvey brought to parts of Texas, Long Beach schools jumped right on board to help those who were affected. Students, staff and families from Long Beach High School, Long Beach Middle School and East, Lido, Lindell and West elementary schools wanted to share with those thousands of miles away the lessons they had learned about unity, kindness, hope, strength and resilience through experiences with Superstorm Sandy.
Through a collaboration between the high school’s English department, Key Club, National Honor Society, Student Organization and Life Skills department, upwards of 1,000 letters have been written by Long Beach students to those who have suffered damage from Harvey. The middle school also got involved, and students in both buildings’ English classes welcomed the invitation to express their encouragement and compassion. Most of them had their own personal stories to tell, with life lessons about the power of working together to rebuild.
“I feel so bad that you had to deal with Hurricane Harvey,” wrote middle school student Bridget O’Driscoll. “Five years ago, Long Beach, New York and all of the East Coast had to deal with Hurricane Sandy. We came together as a community to rebuild Long Beach.”
“I know what you’re going through,” middle school student Kerry Off wrote. “When Sandy hit, I felt I would never make it through everything that had happened. I was heartbroken, but then we rebuilt. I knew everyone was OK no matter how long it took.”
High school student Katelyn Salvato shared, “I hope you know that so many people are willing to help and rebuild your town, just like we did five years ago. Things will get easier; it might take long, but eventually life will go back to normal. I hope all our donations and love make it easier for you in this time.”
The high school is also coordinating a “Battle of the Classes” project, which presents a fundraiser in the form of a friendly and collaborative competition with a unique twist. Each class will receive a donation bin and 1,000 points. For every 25 cents placed in a donation bin, 10 points will be subtracted. The goal is for students to put money in the other classes’ buckets so that their own bucket retains the most points. The class with the highest number of points at the end of the competition will gain points for their school’s Class Olympics, and the donations will be used to purchase grocery store gift cards that will be sent to Texas before the holidays.
Long Beach High School’s Life Skills students are excited to be involved in these efforts as well. They are decorating the donation bins and will help facilitate the activity during weekdays in the building’s commons. The Life Skills students are also running a donation table at the Farmers Market at Kennedy Plaza on Wednesday afternoons to raise money from the community that will be distributed among the classes’ bins.
This endeavor will expand to include the entire district at the annual Homecoming Carnival on Oct. 13, when a “Battle of the Schools” will be held. Each building will be represented with two bins, and attendees can donate tickets to the bin of their choice. The school that raises the most in proceeds will receive a special halftime shout-out during the football game.
The gift card donations and letters will be delivered to a high school in League City, Texas, where Long Beach High School graduate and former faculty member Mike Jiminez currently teaches.
Long Beach Middle School has created a hallway mural that symbolizes Long Beach’s support of Texas. For every dollar donated, a swatch of colored paper is added to help fill in and complete the image. The middle school has another creation in the works — a quilt comprised of students’ inspirational messages and illustrations. Many squares have already been designed and will be patched together to form one heartfelt piece.
Lido School’s students, staff and families went full steam ahead with their outreach efforts during the first few days of school. They organized a donation drive that produced row upon row of brand-new backpacks filled with school supplies, boxes of new socks and pajamas in various sizes, and notes of encouragement. A $1,000 donation from Allstate Insurance is making the delivery possible.
Lindell School’s fifth-graders will be selling bracelets as a fundraiser. The pieces will be red, white and blue and have “We are survivors! Sandy/Harvey” embossed on them. Each bracelet will cost $1 and the proceeds will go directly to an elementary school in the Houston Independent School District. East and West elementary schools are coordinating other efforts to make a difference, such as gift card drives. East’s donations will also benefit families affected by Hurricane Irma.
The district will share updates on these efforts and more in the upcoming weeks!
Lido 1: John Puglisi, Noah Rossi, Matteo Minkler-Wielstein, Keira Carson, Zoe Pinto, Thomas Gregory, Savannah Barnes and Carlos Sierra Gomez display some of the many backpacks filled with school supplies that Lido donated.
Lido 2: Lido children send love and support to Texas.
Mural 1 & 2: Long Beach Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society, Student Government and Multicultural Club collaborated to create a mural as part of a Harvey fundraiser.
Photos courtesy of Long Beach Public Schools