January 29, 2013

Freeport students deliver help to Sandy-devastated Freeport, NY

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

FREEPORT — Several students and staff members from Freeport, along with a haul of donated school supplies, were welcomed last week at an elementary school in Freeport, N.Y., a community that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October.

Students dubbed the project Freeport to Freeport, and in December began in December drive that culminated when the students delivered the supplies in a school van and with help from FedEx, said Dede Bennell, service learning coordinator for Freeport schools. Bennell and a group of students she oversees through a service learning club coordinated the fund drive.

In New York, the Leo F. Giblyn Elementary School, which has 556 students in a diverse community on Long Island's south-facing coast, took on several inches of water and was closed for days as crews scrambled to clean up the mess. Instructional materials, school furniture and teaching supplies were damaged.

Surrounding neighborhoods fared as poorly. The storm tossed boats inland, sent water rushing through suburban streets, and soaked homes and personal belongings.

Bennell said students and families in Maine collected more than $2,000 in cash assistance, along with gift cards to big-box stores for families to buy needed goods. For the students, Maine families gathered backpacks, markers, notebooks and other school supplies to help them resume normal study.

Kishore Kuncham, the superintendent in Freeport, N.Y., told Newsday that the cost of the damage to the district was $2 million, and said he was touched by the unexpected gesture.

"We want to continue this partnership, and we hope to see one day if we could help Freeport, Maine, in some fashion," Kuncham told Newsday.

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