The winter, cold months are ahead of us and youngsters from are collecting winter coats, snow boots, scarfs, hats and gloves. But they will be sending the items to kids who have been affected by the flooding and destructions Hurricane Irene left in upstate New York.
Music teacher Lorraine Cich who is a member of Bridges of Peace and Hope, a non-profit organization, visited some of those areas and when she heard people were in need of winter clothing she decided to help out.
"We all have heard about many cities and towns that have suffered from Hurricane Irene," read a letter sent to parents by the school. "Families have lost homes, belongings and even businesses dues to the damage from the wind, fallen trees and flooding. [...] It was suggested that donations of children's clothing would be greatly appreciated."
John Farrell's Bridges of Peace and Hope is comprised of teachers, students, and friends working together on "creative, educational projects that promote peace and understanding among people of all cultures and backgrounds." The school has been involved with other programs within the organization in the past.
The donations will be sent to the towns of Schoharie, Middleburgh, Windham and Margaretville, where roads had been washed out, houses were swept and trees were knocked down. Although life is going back to normal, a lot of repair is still needed, Cich said.
"We will also be working to make meaningful connections between our school and the students in some of these schools through music, artwork and writings from the children," Cich said.
Besides bringing new or gently used winter clothing to school, students were also encouraged to send letters and artwork to the kids in upstate New York to show them they care as they're trying to get back to their normal lives.
Cich said she and Farrell recently visited Margaretville to do a music assembly and begin making some contacts for future collaborative projects between the schools. She has also planned to begin a pen pal program between the Yorktown students and those in upstate New York.
"To establish friendships, the kids can see that there are kids who live in different places," she said.
This is not the first time students at the school have organized to help others. Cich said students have also sent packages to Katrina victims and the U.S. troops overseas.
"Our school is very giving that way," she said.
Fifth grade students said they were happy to help people who needed help. Jessica Grosso and John Dolgetta said they were told some of those students had lost their homes due to the flooding and knew collecting clothes to help them out was a "good idea."
"I think it's a good idea because people who can't afford clothes, now they'll have it," 5th grader Michael Marino said.
Farrell, who is a musician and has performed at area schools in the past, will be having a free concert for the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School students on Thursday, Oct. 27. The concert will be a culmination of the clothing drive. That's when all donated items will be collected and then brought to the upstate schools in November.
"People still need help," Cich said. "It's never too late to do something when you make the connections. I think it will be good."
Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is part of the Lakeland Central School District and is located at 3626 Gomer Street in Yorktown Heights. Donations will be accepted anytime prior to the concert. There are boxes in the lobby of the school where donations can be dropped off.
For more information about the towns, visit www.bridgesofpeaceandhope.com.