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Lakeland Teachers to Spread Holiday Cheer with Second Sandy Relief Trip

Donations are still being accepted – items needed are bottled water, juice boxes, new unwrapped toys, food, wrapping paper, tape and warm clothes.

A group of Lakeland Central School District teachers and staff are planning their second trip to help Hurricane Sandy victims – this time they are traveling to the Broad Channel area on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School teachers Camille Parisi, Michelle Reuter and Mary Eickler are planning the trip along with their colleagues at the school to spread some holiday cheer. They recently traveled to the Rockaways in Queens to help Hurricane Sandy victims with relief efforts. 

"The trip is going to have a much happier tone to it," Parisi said. "The focus is really on the joy that is to be had on the holidays, rather than the clean up than needs to be done."

In Broad Channel, volunteers will work indoors to serve hot food, coffee and dessert, distribute toys to children and sing Christmas carols. They will be stationed at the Broad Channel Athletic Club on Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and have invited all the area families to come along, especially the children of P.S. 47 and St. Camillus Parish in Broad Channel.

If anyone is looking to help, donations are still being accepted. Items needed are bottled water, juice boxes, new unwrapped toys, and food (restaurant donations and home baked goods), wrapping paper, tape, warm clothes. (Details on the drop off location below).

Parisi said the devastation after Sandy is enormous and people should continue their efforts of trying to help people in need. 

After seeing the devastation on the news, Parisi and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School teacher Zenobia Kellock organized the group's first trip to the hard hit area. The location was found through the help of United for the Troops' Founders, Jim and Pat Rathschmidt. Approximately 17 members of the group also provided supplies and assistance at Beach 113 and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

For Parisi, the trips are personal having grown up near and vacationed on the beaches of East Rockaway.  

"Now, as an adult, I am heartbroken at the devastation," she said.

Generous donations from the Freight House Cafe in Mahopac, Bob-B-Q's in Shrub Oak, and JV Bagels helped the group serve more than 500 hamburgers, 600 hot-dogs, and 300 bagels. They were also able give out donations and help with the clean up of some of the homes.

"I have to say that the group that went down was amazing," Kellock said. "We cooked and served, gave out donations and got down and dirty helping with the clean-up of some homes. It really was wonderful and I am so happy to have been a part of it.  If you can believe it, I would say we served food to almost 1,000 people."

If anyone is interested in donating unused items for the Dec. 15 trip, you can drop off items in the Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School lobby until Friday, Dec. 14 by 3:30 p.m.

Or email any one of the teachers directly to volunteer or donate.

Michelle Reuter mreuter@lakelandschools.org

Camille Parisi cparisi@lakelandschools.org

Mary Eickler meickler@lakelandschools.org

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Others taking part in the first trip were Kellock's husband; Marybeth Guyett (Thomas Jefferson nurse); Nancy Fletcher (Thomas Jefferson physical education teacher) and her daughter and daughter's friend; Kathy Mills-Hastings (Van Cortlandtville Elementary School teacher) and her two sons; Pat O'Dell (district office staff member) and her husband and their two daughters and their husband and boyfriend; Parisi and her husband; and Michelle Reuter (middle school teacher), Susan Wolf (Lakeland) and a few other community members.

To read Patch's story about the group's first trip, click here.

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