11/21/2012 10:36:00 AM Liberty students gather warm clothes for hurricane survivors
Sixth-grade teacher Danette Derickson and some of her students collect warm clothing this past week for people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut affected by Hurricane Sandy. On Friday, they shipped 30 full boxes to be delivered to East Coast residents on Thanksgiving Day.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast this past month, one of its consequences was the closure of many public schools. Liberty Traditional School sixth-grade teacher Danette Derickson said a casual comment by one of her students provided the impetus behind the LTS Hurricane Sandy Project.
"I overheard a student say, 'I wish we had a hurricane so we wouldn't have to go to school.' So in science class, we studied hurricanes and the damage they cause. We looked at photos taken of neighborhoods hit by Hurricane Sandy. Immediately, the students wanted to help," Derickson said.
Feeling a little leery about raising money for large organizations, and wanting donations to go directly to those affected, the teacher turned it back to the students, asking if they wanted to take on a project themselves. They did.
Within three days, they located large boxes - Lowe's donated 50 boxes - and shipping - free, thanks to FedEx - and put out the word with flyers and by visiting classrooms to talk about hurricanes and the project. The students requested donations of only six items: jackets, blankets, pants, scarves, beanies and gloves.
"We wanted to focus on warmth, and this is what the Center for Arizona Policy recommended," Derickson said.
She also found three recipients that met her criteria - reputable establishments and a variety of services they provided, including food, clothing and education - the Bowery District Mission in Manhattan, New York; Atlantic Rescue Mission in New Jersey; and Bridgeport Rescue Mission in Connecticut.
"I called all of them, and they were beyond thankful," Derickson said, adding that one woman on the phone was in tears after hearing these were school children in Arizona wanting to offer help.
Students set up tables outside on campus and sorted through the donations this past week as clothing arrived in bags and boxes each morning. The response from the community, churches and the students has been incredible, Derickson said. Sixth-graders helping tape boxes during their lunch on Wednesday expressed their empathy and concern.
"If I was in that position, I'd want people to help me," Hali Skipper said.
"It's good because we're helping people," Andrea Torres said. "We have things we don't need and we can just give it to somebody else to use."
The donations will go directly to those who need it most, Derickson said. Donated clothing ranged from infant size to 2X. Included with the boxes for each mission is a card signed by all of her students.