Though Hurricane Sandy scattered families, devastated homes and businesses, and has forever changed the landscape of the Rockaways, one school community in Arverne has refused to give in. PS/IS 42Q’s Jamie Haberstumpf mobilized an army of volunteers in response to Hurricane Sandy’s destructive surge through the Rockaways.
After the onslaught of the hurricane, Principal Patricia Finn recalled one of her sixth-grade students asking about the reopening of the school on Beach 66th Street. “Soon,” she remembers reassuring him. She recalled how he hesitated and then informed her that he wouldn’t be able to return since the storm had destroyed all of his clothing.
When schools reopened on Friday, November 2, Finn shared this story with her teachers and staff. That same evening, Haberstumpf, who teaches fifth grade, posted a link to an online donation drive on Facebook. The next day, donated items were pouring into her home. By Sunday, an army of volunteers had organized at the storm-damaged school, stocking cafeteria tables with warm sweaters, bottled water, and other essential items.
Victoria and Allen Kitnis were among those on hand to help that day. Victoria said, “As soon as I saw that Facebook post, I said to my husband, ‘This is the time when people need to help other people.’”
As a result of the considerable volunteer effort, PS/IS 42Q was immediately designated as an official Red Cross distribution center. The school continues to receive and distribute supplies such as warm clothing, blankets, canned goods and other items for community members who themselves are still living without electricity, heat, or hot water.
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