Press It Forward: Philadelphia school helps Ocean City students in wake of hurricane
Students and staff at one Philadelphia school felt such a tie to the shore, they wanted to help kids at the Ocean City Intermediate School who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
So they collected enough toys to fill more than half of a school bus, and delivered them to the school on Thursday.
“When I saw the Hurricane hurt New Jersey, I felt bad,” said Fatima Flemming, 11, a fifth grader at the John Story Jenks School in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. “People lost everything they had.”
She said her family donated a Barbie doll for a girl, and a Nerf toy for a boy.
She was one of 22 fourth and fifth grade students, all members of the competitive Jenks Arts and Music choir, who delivered the toys and then gave a mini holiday concert. They carried boxes and bags of wrapped items into the school, filling a conference room. Several OCIS student council officers helped.
Jenks music teacher Andrew Leland said the group lost count of how many toys were collected, but they filled more than half of the bus, floor to ceiling, he said.
After the Jenks students sang, they were treated to pizzas donated by Manco and Manco.
Jenks computer science teacher Alice Goldsmith started the effort, by calling OCIS Principal Geoff Haines, and asking him what kids needed.
“I told her many had lost their toys,” Haines said, “and their parents don’t have the funds to replace them.” He estimated that 15 percent of the school’s 400 students are still displaced.
At first Goldsmith, who spends summers in Ocean City at her father’s condominium there, thought she would collect some toys and bring them down in her car.
“”It became bigger than I thought,” she said.
Jenks is a K-8 school of about 500 students, about half of whom live in other parts of Philadelphia. It’s a diverse student body, and some of the kids come from families that face their own economic challenges.
She and Leland said this is the biggest charitable effort the school has ever undertaken, although it regularly participates in collecting funds for the March of Dimes, breast cancer awareness and autism awareness.
Jenks art students created posters and ads, which were placed in businesses along Germantown Avenue, Leland said. Some of the toys were donated by community members from outside the school, and $1,200 in toys were donated by residents at Gwynedd Estates retirement home in Ambler, Pa.
Ocean City Student Council officer Madison Kitchen, 13, thanked some of the Jenks students, and said she was surprised by the volume of donations. Jenks fifth grader Syniah Coleman, 10, asked her if the school got donations from any other schools.
“No, you are the only one. That’s why it’s so important,” she told her.
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