School supplies help more than 1,200 students recover from Superstorm Sandy

By John Iwasaki

The storm water from Superstorm Sandy has long withdrawn from New York City, but the needs of vulnerable school children remain.

New York teachers were pleased to gather school supplies at the Mobile Teacher Resource Center.

World Vision's response to areas hit hard by the late October 2012 storm, which started as a hurricane, includes distribution of free classroom supplies to teachers at schools where at least 70 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Since January 2013, World Vision's Mobile Teacher Resource Center—a converted school bus bearing notebooks, pencils, binders, scissors and other school supplies—has visited schools in the boroughs of Queens and Staten Island.

More than 1,200 students had been served by early April, with an estimated 3,000 students expected to be served by the end of the school year.

One of the educators helped is Jessica Thompson, a resource room teacher for students in kindergarten through second grade at Peninsula Preparatory Academy in Far Rockaway, a community in Queens.

She tries to have students bring in some school supplies, "but it's very hard for the parents to buy extra supplies for their kids," said Thompson, who usually pays for supplies out of her own pocket. She recently "shopped" for free materials at the Mobile Teacher Resource Center.

"This will be nice to have the construction [materials] to do crafts and things like that" for her 48 students, she said.

The Mobile Teacher Resource Center offers school supplies that educators often have to buy on their own.

Thompson notices that some students come from families where food may be scarce. "The kids that usually aren't eating well are the ones that usually don't have the support at home, either," she said.

At a recent distribution at Public School 105 in Far Rockaway, teachers expressed gratitude for school supplies.

"It's invaluable, really, because we're low on lot of these supplies," said Christine, a science teacher. "A lot of times we have to go out and purchase them ourselves for our classroom, so we are very appreciative."

Many of the P.S. 105 students also have nutritional needs. The school participates in the federal free and reduced-price meal program. "We know that children really take advantage of the fact that they can get their breakfast [at school] in the morning and almost all of them...come in early for that," said Amy, a special education teacher.

 

Christine said that many of her students complain of headaches, often because they are dehydrated. As part of the response to Superstorm Sandy in Far Rockaway, World Vision has distributed family food kits that feature enough nutritious ingredients to feed a family of five for a day. "I think that as they are growing, (good nutrition) is very, very important," Christine said.

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