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Somers High School Students Make a Difference in Sandy-Stricken Community

The students got "knee deep in mud" to help families in Belle Harbor with recovery and cleanup efforts after Hurricane Sandy.

Two packed school buses, filled with supplies and food for Hurricane Sandy victims – everything from canned foods to baby diapers and formula, to mops and brooms, to blankets, gloves and scarves – made their way from Somers to Belle Harbor on Saturday. 

Somers High School students and staff distributed the supplies they had collected and also served lunch (donated sandwiches, hot soup they made at Somers High School and coffee donated by Dunkin Donuts in Mahopac). 

"The students and adults walked the neighborhood distributing supplies and helping families clean out their basements which were destroyed by the flooding," Somers High School Principal Mark Bayer said. "Every person we met shared his/her story with us and they were all so thankful for our assistance."

Bayer said there were 54 students, 7 staff members and 8 parents who worked tirelessly for about five hours on Nov. 10. 

"Our kids were amazing," he said. "They got knee deep in mud and helped families who were feeling hopeless make some headway with their recovery and cleanup. They brought some relief to weary victims of the storm and to tired and fatigued rescue workers."

One of the most profound parts of the trip was visiting and touring the neighborhood where about 20 homes were destroyed by a fire that raged through the entire block, Bayer told Patch.

"[The students] heard a first-hand account from a young lady whose family lived on that block and whose house was completely destroyed," Bayer said. "Her father is a retired firefighter [who] couldn’t do anything to help save his own house. The devastation was immense."

Bayer said he received two emails from volunteers, who were also helping out Hurricane Sandy victims, regarding his students. 

From Kevin Glander:

My name is Kevin Glander and I was one of the volunteers who helped clean out that flooded basement on Beach 125th St. in Rockaway yesterday. Like yourself and your students, I didn't know the residents of that home, but were glad to help out. The young men who worked tirelessly and got filthy were nothing short of amazing. The basement was totally cleaned out by 3 PM and couldn't have been done so quickly without your students help. The owners were extraordinarily grateful. Lori, the owner and mother of four, (including a one month old daughter) said that the help she received from random volunteers has lifted her spirit. To share one vignette, several of the adults asked the young men to take a break, go inside, and eat something. They repeatedly declined and kept working. I was forced to tell a group of the students that I was exercising my authority as an adult and to go upstairs, wash their hands, and eat something. Gratefully they did so, albeit briefly. Kudos to the fine students of Somers High School. Their generous volunteerism, hard work, and cheerful spirit has made a difference in the lives of others.

From Christopher Brown: 

I wanted to take a few minutes prior to my flight back to San Francisco to address your students' work this past Saturday in the Rockaways. My wife grew up in the area and was well acquainted with the family we were all choosing to help on that Saturday. Multiple generations have lived in that house. I was thoroughly impressed with the students' demeanor, work ethic and enthusiasm for this important volunteer work. The family we were helping had just lost a lifetime's worth of possessions and were starting on the long journey to recover and rebuild after such a devastating disaster. The students were polite, respectful and hard working throughout. Their ability to engage and adapt and respectfully take instruction were commendable. The service they provided was invaluable and greatly appreciated and without it, so much would not have been accomplished so quickly. By end of the day the entire basement had been cleared with your students being responsible for the lion's share of the work. You have much to be proud of as they were perfect ambassadors of your school and my impression of your students and your leadership and your district were that you have an outstanding organization and are helping shape model citizens of the highest moral character. Kudos.

The following businesses made donations:

  • Sandwiches donated by Taste in Somers, Grand Central Market in Mahopac, and Cardillo’s Super Deli in Somers.
  • Coffee donated by Dunkin Donuts in Mahopac
  • Buses and drivers donated by Royal Coach
  • Supplies donated by BJ’s Wholesale Club in Yorktown and Home Depot in Mohegan Lake
  • Cases of water and other supplies donated by Pepsi
  • Various other donations were made by members of the Somers community.

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