Liz Valentin and her children are staying with friends in Atlantic City right now, but she hopes to eventually get back to her own apartment, which was flooded by Hurricane Sandy.
On Monday she and her aunt and uncle came to the Uptown Complex to pick up some food, a blanket, underwear and socks at a special project coordinated by the school to help local families.
School principal LaKecia Hyman said they have identified more than 100 families whose homes were flooded in the storm, and another couple hundred who have been affected because of lost jobs or other damage to their homes.
The school identified the needs of their families, then invited them in over several days to pick up bags of food and clothing. On Saturday they also opened the school to the general community and more than 500 people came.
Several businesses and social service organizations provided food baskets and 200 space heaters. Staff from the school volunteered their time and helped set up and run the project, which was held in a section of the gym.
“Some of our families are still living in motels,” Hyman said. “We wanted to make sure they felt welcomed here. We don’t want them to feel that they are getting handouts. We are here to help.”
Valentin and her family prepared to leave, grateful for new underwear and extra food.
“It’s helping a lot,” she said.
Hyman convinced her to take another bag of food. She said they will continue to distribute food and clothing until around noon Wednesday when the school will close for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“A lot of the families were already poor,” she said. “They didn’t have a lot before the storm.”
Hyman said the next project is to try to find some new mattresses and box springs.
Organizations that provided food and space heaters included Shore Fellowship Church and Joe Canal’s liquor store in Egg Harbor Township, the New York-based Islamic Circle of North America, and the Zubaida Foundation in Pennsylvania.