As students of the Diocese of Trenton watched the devastation unfold in Texas during Hurricane Harvey, they immediately wanted to do something to help. Two schools in particular organized fundraisers and supply drives to assist the victims of the flood-ravaged state.
Dress-down days are nothing new to the students in Our Lady of Sorrows School. But the one that was held in the Hamilton school Sept. 14 to help hurricane relief efforts exceeded expectations in terms of support. In all, more than $1,000 was raised.
Maureen Tuohy, principal, said the impetus for the dress-down day came after students in the school’s National Junior Honor Society heard that Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., had requested all parishes in the Diocese take up a second collection to aid those affected by the hurricane. And the society thought their school could do its part.
“The faculty, staff and students were very supportive, especially since so many people knew someone or had relatives in Florida,” Tuohy said.
“As the money was collected, it became apparent that people were being extremely generous,” Tuohy said. “We have never had a dress-down fundraiser receive this much support. The Honor Society members were stunned to see all they had accomplished.”
NJHS members were pleased that they could make a contribution toward hurricane assistance.
“We live in New Jersey, which is a coastal state. We know what it is like to be slammed by a hurricane,” said eighth-grader and NJHS president Jamie Mersel. “We need to show others our compassion.”
While seventh-grader Gabriel Gomez said it was a beautiful act of service to help people encountering a natural disaster, classmate Matthew Walsh added that “it’s common sense to help people in danger and with such a great need.”
“I am so proud and honored to be part of a school that would give so generously,” Tuohy said. “This year, we are focusing on service to others and this fundraiser definitely highlights that commitment.”
As soon as the hurricane hit Texas, the faculty of Holy Cross School also started brainstorming ideas to help children in the hardest hit areas. Holy Cross families were very much affected by Superstorm Sandy, just five years ago, so the needs and struggles of the people of Texas were immediately understood.
Maryjane Gallo, Holy Cross teacher, was also thinking of her friend and former teacher in the school, Nancy Tooker, who had relocated to Houston. They got in touch, and Tooker researched Catholic schools in her area that needed assistance – ultimately finding True Cross School, Dickinson, Texas.
True Cross Catholic School took on four feet of water during the storm, rendering everything in it unusable. Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, about 30 minutes away in Texas City, welcomed the faculty and students of True Cross until their school can be recovered at an unknown date.
Gallo’s sixth- and seventh-grade classes organized a book drive, placing collection boxes in each homeroom, designing posters to advertise the book drive, and going in to each homeroom to speak to the classes directly. They collected 25 boxes of books totaling 1,250 pounds, as well as donations to cover the cost of postage. Eighth-grade classes will assist in the transport of boxes to the post office for shipping. Each student in the school wrote and decorated a personal card for a student at True Cross, to be included in the care packages.