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Greenhouse School Kids help in Sandy Relief Effort

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Daniel Patrick Welch
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Kids at The Greenhouse School in Salem are once again digging into their classroom stash to help out those in need. Kids were moved by the story of how one of school Director Dan Welch's friends, who lives in Rocakaway with his two young boys, have been rendered temporarily homeless by Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the peninsula. "It's something they can easily relate to--I'm talking to a group of boys about boys their age--it's a fantastic teachable moment."

HuffPo describes Rockaway as "an 11-mile spit of land that extends out from the borough of Queens into the ocean. It is a poor and working-class neighborhood of public housing projects, high-rise buildings and two-family homes that few tourists ever see, but it has become an increasingly popular destination for native New Yorkers, drawn by its proximity -- a beach and beautiful wooden boardwalk at the end of a subway line -- and a handful of hip restaurants, such as the ramshackle summertime favorite Rockaway Taco.

"When the storm hit, the entire peninsula suffered massive damage. Water surged in from the ocean to the east and from Jamaica Bay from the west, covering the entire landmass with at least four feet of water, according to residents. The boardwalk was completely destroyed and basements and homes were flooded."

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There is significant resentment from some sections of the community that so many resources are being diverted to the New York Marathon this weekend while so many people are in such dire straits. A group of Welch's friends from Queens have banded together to bring much-needed supplies and food to those most in need in the area. Welch points out "sometimes people are skeptical or reluctant to help if a huge corporate-style effort with lots of overhead is the conduit." For small groups of people, he adds there is something comforting about friends helping friends. One of the group's coordinators, Salvatore Giametta-Leon puts it succinctly in a text: "We are not the "Red Cross," all $ will be used for supplies only, thanks!"

While the most obvious help at this distance is for donations, Welch and his wife, co-Director Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde, are also collecting some supplies which they will bring to New York tomorrow. "Obviously we're not going to bring a tractor-trailer, but a medium size load of canned goods, toiletries and the like can't hurt." Project coordinator Karina Valdieso elaborates: "Specific Requests in Rockaway and Far Rockaway (starred ones are most urgent): * Propane grille or camping style oven * Plates, cups, forks, bowls, spoons, etc * blankets, jackets, gloves, hats, anything to keep folks warm * cleaning supplies - buckets, squeegies, mops, bleach * masks, gloves for cleaning * socks * water * tarps * garbage bags"

The couple realizes that the effort is largely symbolic, and one that is an important learning experience for kids in their care. Welch comments "We need to teach them as young as possible that banding together to help out is not something 'other people' do, or that only agencies can accomplish."

Donations can be made directly through PayPal, Email address removed , brought or sent to the school. School officials will be accepting donations of food and supplies until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, when they hope to leave for NYC. Contact Email address removed

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(c) 2014 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to http://danielpwelch.com. Political analyst, writer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife. Together (more...)

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