East Elementary students reach out to Sandy victims

Jan. 10, 2013 @ 05:47 PM

When Erica Retzlaff's second-grade class saw the destruction from superstorm Sandy, they were compelled to act. 

Retzlaff and Rebecca Ripple, another second-grade teacher at East Elementary, used Skype to communicate with Retzlaff's sister in New Jersey and Ripple's cousin in Maryland. 

"We skyped with them and learned about the things they had to do to become prepared for the hurricane," Retzlaff said. "They took them outside to show them what was happening." 

After the storm cleared, the class looked at news stories and saw the destruction the storm left in its path. 

"Through looking at the damage, they realized they wanted to help them out and through the guidance of us, we got them to want to help even more," Retzlaff said. 

The class collected donations and made flood bags for the victims of the storm. 

"We created a collection and asked each grade level to bring in a different level to bring in a different item to make a flood bag," Retzlaff explained. 

Kindergarten students brought in wash cloths, first grade students brought in soap, second grade students brought in toothbrushes and toothpaste, fourth grade students brought in deodorant and fifth grade students brought in water bottles. 

If students could not buy the supplies, they could bring in any loose change. 

East Elementary is a Title I school, meaning that at least 40 percent of the students come from low-income families, using the census report's definition of low-income. 

The boxes of collected items ended up being quite heavy. They are currently getting donations from teachers in order to ship the boxes to a shelter in New Jersey, which Retzlaff found when researching shelters that needed help. 

The students learned about giving and being a good citizen, she said. 

"They definitely learned that even though they don't have a lot, they can help other people who have even less than them. And to be good citizens," Retzlaff said. "They were really moved by it."

The students made posters and went on the morning announcements to encourage students to participate. 

"They really took it to heart and it was really touching to see," Retzlaff said.