Julie Bergin of Lynbrook, N.Y., spent two weeks without power after Superstorm Sandy swept through her community. While her children were able to return to school, many New York and New Jersey students were unable to resume their education uninterrupted.
Bergin started an effort to pair schools that needed help with school groups that wanted to help. She created Schools Adopting Schools in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy, a Facebook page where volunteers could be matched with children and schools that need assistance.
“There are many schools impacted. We have 20 schools that we’re working with right now. Five schools have been ‘adopted,’ where both parties have connected, the adopter and adoptee,” she said. “We have a lot of schools who are interested in adopting. Our main challenge is finding the schools to be adopted, because the kids are so displaced right now. Kids are being bused to schools miles and miles away.”
Bergin said an NYPD officer who attended Rockaway schools in New York City is helping her locate contacts in that community, because she needs people who are able to accept donations that are sent.
Requests have come in for school supplies—calculators, backpacks, pens and paper—and for personal items, like shoes, socks, and winter wear like gloves and boots.
The New York delegate to the 2012 Mom Congress that met in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, Bergin put the word out to her Mom Congress friends across the country. Soon, she was receiving offers for help from California, Texas, Utah, and South Carolina. Myrdin Thompson, a Mom Congress alum from Kentucky, featured Bergin’s efforts in a blog post.
The National PTA is also assisting schools. It has established a special grant program to assist those schools and PTAs impacted by the storm. The grant program will award a minimum of $500 (and up to $5,000 in $500 increments) to PTAs in areas affected by the storm to help them repair storm damage to school libraries and playgrounds, purchase new books and supplies, and much more. PTAs can apply for more than one grant if they have multiple needs. Monetary donations to the effort are being accepted here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.