Lake Zurich students respond to Hurricane Sandy
Students from Middle School North and Isaac Fox Elementary School raised more than $2,000 each for the American Red Cross and its continued efforts to provide relief for those affected by the super storm. | Photo provided
Updated: December 6, 2012 3:08PM
LAKE ZURICH — They didn’t coordinate their efforts, but the hearts and minds of students from two Lake Zurich schools were seemingly in the same place after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast on Oct. 29.
By Nov. 9, students from Middle School North and Isaac Fox Elementary School raised more than $2,000 each for the American Red Cross and its continued efforts to provide relief for those affected by the super storm.
In total, Lake Zurich students donated $4,323.
As of Nov. 19, money donated to the American Red Cross’ relief efforts — from schools like Middle School North, Isaac Fox and many others — helped play a part in providing Sandy victims with more than 76,000 overnight stays in shelters; 6.4 million meals and snacks; 3.6 million relief items; 75,000 emotional support and health contacts; and help from more than 300 response vehicles.
Donna Young, who co-chairs Middle School North’s PTO connect committee, said the school community was determined to help Sandy’s victims the week the storm hit land, and began planning a fund-raiser shortly thereafter.
“We thought, ‘How would we get items over to the East Coast?’ and felt that by raising cash instead, we’d be able to better donate directly to the cause,” Young said.
The connect committee, which is a charitable group of students that Young and fellow co-chair Denise Rasbid lead, decided that involving all the middle school’s students in a “penny war” would be the best way to fund raise.
For the week after the hurricane hit, the middle school’s sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students competed to win the competition by dropping thousands of pennies into their own classrooms’ jars, and putting all other silver and paper money into their rivals’ jar.
“Every penny is counted as one positive point, and anything silver or paper counts as negative points — so a dollar is negative 100 points, for instance,” Young explained. “And of course, when you get a little bit of friendly competition going, it’s fun and motivating for the kids to get involved.”
In addition to the penny war, a parent at the middle school convinced his employer, www.SalesForce.com, to match the total amount raised by the students at the end of the week.
When SalesForce.com matched the middle school’s $1,086, a total of $2,172 was ultimately donated to the American Red Cross.
Mel Fox, a fourth-grade teacher at Isaac Fox, said that she was in awe of her young students’ will to help the victims of a disaster that occurred so far away from them.
“The kids gave up their lunch time to make posters that they put up around the building and took turns making announcements at the beginning of the school day ... it was amazing how much came in on the first day,” Fox said.
Fox explained that the fourth-grade classes decided to coordinate the elementary school’s fund-raiser in a team meeting they held Nov. 6. Immediately after the meeting, students distributed flyers, created “red cross” collection boxes to be put in each classroom, gave announcements on the school intercom and alerted their parents about their efforts.
Nina Guarisco, a fourth-grader at Isaac Fox, said she was motivated to help Sandy’s victims after learning in school about the severity of the storm.
“I like helping people, and I think it’s really important to give to people that don’t have the same things as I do,” Guarisco said.
Fourth-graders Ellie Root, Sebastian Pighini and Angelika Popek agreed that they’d want others to help in the same way if it had happened to them.
“We learned that not many people had homes after the hurricane hit and that everyone had to evacuate ... Where would you live?” Pighini asked.
The students also wrote letters to children without electricity at Park Avenue Elementary School, located in Port Chester, N.J.
“I wrote that I was concerned that they didn’t have any electricity, and I asked them questions about what it was like,” Root said.
Popek shared the same concern in her letter to the students, and followed her sentiments with tips.
“I tried to give them ideas about what to do without any electricity, like what kind of games they could play,” Popek said.