World Vision's Day of Caring provides hope
World Vision and Public School 42 in Far Rockaway in New York hosted a Day of Caring for families whose lives were unexpectedly derailed by the rising waters and raging wind of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
Many of the children attending P.S. 42 and their families were left devastated in Sandy's wake. The damage left them struggling to afford necessities months after the storm had passed.
More than a year later as the 2013 holiday season approached, buying presents was an impossibility for many families. The Day of Caring brightened what could have been a bleak Christmas season in this community in the New York City borough of Queens.
P.S. 42 opened its doors on December 14 and invited families on campus. World Vision provided toys, Baden sports balls, plush animals, books, and backpacks to nearly 700 children who might not have otherwise received presents.
World Vision volunteers helped assemble Family Food Kits and lifted children's spirits with face painting, arts and crafts, and games.
"They had a ball. It was a blessing to see kids with smiles on their faces," says Cherie Monroe, mother to Tavion, 10, and Ya'sir, 11. Her children received toys, food, and backpacks (donated by JPMorgan Chase) stuffed with goodies.
"They were really happy. They just thought it was a book bag. But when they opened up the book bag, they had school supplies, notebooks, pencils; everything that they need for their classes," says Cherie.
She says that many families weren’t able to afford school supplies after the storm.
Rosalina Waters brought her fifth-grade son, Antonio, to the Day of Caring. Her family had only recently moved into their basement apartment when it was flooded by the storm.
"It was very hard for me and my children. We lost everything. It was very shocking for all of us," Rosalina says.
Antonio, an avid reader, received the perfect gift at the Day of Caring: a new book.
"My fifth-grader especially enjoyed the books," says Rosalina. "He loves storybooks. I can see that [those at World Vision and P.S. 42] who put on this program have really helped the children."
At the same time the distribution was underway in Far Rockaway, World Vision held a similar event in Moore, Oklahoma, for children affected by tornadoes that struck in May 2013.
World Vision distributed toys, Baden sports balls, and plush toys to more than 1,000 children at the Oklahoma Day of Caring.
Earlier, the organization shipped building materials to Moore and other affected communities to help rebuild damaged homes.
Sam Canaday, a teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, was trapped with her daughter and several other kindergarten students at the school when the tornado tore through town.
"We lost our school, and we almost lost our lives," Sam says during the Day of Caring in Moore. "But we didn't. We were one of the fortunate ones to walk out."
Eleven days after the disaster, a tornado roared through nearby El Reno, Oklahoma.
"It took our house," Sam says. "So we literally lost everything in a matter of two weeks. But God has blessed us. We have a new home; we're getting a new school."
"People like you guys and other people in the community have been so generous. I wouldn't have anything now if it wasn’t for people like you."