ucps logo

Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools

Search by Keyword

East Elementary students take on Hurricane Sandy relief project

Second graders show the bags they assembled for Hurricane Sandy victims. Pictured, from left, are Perla Garcia-Hurtado, Erica Retzlaff, Amija Brooks and David Harrison.

Second graders at East Elementary were almost finished studying a unit on weather as Hurricane Sandy approached the eastern United States.

As the storm came closer, those at the school with family and friends in the north worried about their loved ones. Two of the school’s second-grade teachers were no exception.

Erica Retzlaff’s sister lives in Manalapan, New Jersey, and Rebecca Ripple’s cousin resides in Annapolis, Maryland. These two teachers decided to use the Skype program to communicate with their loved ones and at the same time, help their students understand what a hurricane is like.

Ripple’s cousin in Annapolis, David Merrill, described to the students via Skype what kind of supplies his family was gathering and their plan of action to weather the storm.

After skyping with Retzlaff’s sister, Robin Margolis, East students wanted to write her a letter in New Jersey. One student, Christian Almanza, wrote, “Be safe. Not just safe… but really safe.”

The students also watched live feed news reports to keep up with current events before, during and after the storm. After the storm hit and they became aware of the devastation, the students wanted to know how they could help. When looking at the pictures of the aftermath, second grader David Harrison just shook his head. “That’s so sad,” he said. “Look at all those poor people.”

The school’s five second-grade classes decided to organize a project to help Hurricane Sandy victims. They made posters and created a commercial for the school news broadcast, asking everyone in the school to donate items to make flood bags full of toiletry items.

Staff members were asked to bring gallon zip lock storage bags, fifth graders to bring bottled water, fourth graders to bring deodorant and third graders to bring shampoo. The second graders contributed toothbrushes and toothpaste, first graders brought bars of soap, and pre–K and kindergarten students brought washcloths or hand towels.

In addition, anyone who could donate loose change was encouraged to do so. A note from the second graders was included in each bag. It read, “Dear Hurricane Sandy Victims, We are from East Elementary School in Monroe, North Carolina. We collected change and different items from classes and staff. We took the items and made flood bags. We are giving you this flood bag so you can take baths, drink water and clean your teeth. We wanted to help you because we are sad that Hurricane Sandy destroyed your city and state. I hope that these items will help you. Your Friends, Second Grade.”

Second graders traveled to all the classrooms each morning during the week of Nov. 12 -16, 2012, gathering the donated items. They did math activities to tally the items they collected, making bar graphs and counting by twos, fives and tens. The class with the most donations was promised a popcorn party.

On Nov. 19, 2012, they assembled 70 bags of toiletries in the media center and boxed the bags and extra supplies to be shipped to New Jersey. The change the students collected was used toward shipping costs.

Overall, the second-grade team thought the project was a huge success. Some individuals brought in as many as 40 items. The whole school was touched by the generosity of its students.

“We are a Title I school and it was amazing to see students looking past his or her own circumstances to help others in need,” Erica Retzlaff said.

The fifth graders brought in the most items and won a popcorn party. They brought in 137 bottles of water.

Written by: Lisa Bush, East Elementary Media Coordinator and Erica Retzlaff, Second Grade Teacher
Posted: Jan 22, 2013 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

Back to list of stories for Union County Public Schools