Helping hands for Sandy's victims

MANCHESTER - Orvis and Burr and Burton Academy teamed up this past week to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy in places like Sea Bright, N.J., Brooklyn, N.Y., and other parts of New York City.

Starting on Thursday, Nov. 8 and ending Saturday, Nov. 10, Orvis, with the help of Burr and Burton Academy students, collected items to ship to New Jersey and New York to help people in need. Items included everything from non-perishable foods to blankets and winter jackets.

"It's a community effort. We are getting a great response from all the local community bringing clothing, blankets, toiletries, pet products, toys, tools, batteries, and non-perishable food," said Don Benasich, the senior manager for outlets and events at Orvis.

Burr and Burton Academy got involved when they were contacted by Benasich to see if students could provide the assistance needed to get this project running efficiently.

Lani Lovisa, director of student life and service at BBA, kept in contact with Benasich throughout the project and was happy that students wanted to get involved. Teachers sent their classes down during class time to help organize items that were dropped off by local citizens. Students also volunteered their time after school to help the cause.

"I think why so many kids helped so quickly this time was because it was something they could really relate to only a year removed from Hurricane Irene," said Lovisa. "Irene helped build our community in lots of ways as disasters often do and I think once that has happened to a community it is that much easier to give."

BBA has experience in previous disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina by providing homes for kids in need and sending students down to help rebuilding efforts. These experiences have helped shape how they react when other communities are in need, Lovisa said. "It's all about building strong communities and helping those in need," she added.

The drive filled five tractor trailers as well as parts of a Greyhound bus sponsored by the Rotary Club and a Heartworks U-Haul truck. Three of the trucks went to Sea Bright, N.J., one truck went to New York City, and another to Brooklyn, N.Y. More than 200 BBA students and 100 Orvis employees packed 2,360 boxes of clothes, blankets, food, personal care items, cleaning supplies, and tools for the storm-ravaged communities of New York and New Jersey.

Help came to Orvis and Burr and Burton Academy in this effort from local businesses in the area. Brown's Excavation Inc. provided a forklift with Dydo Construction donating the time to run it. Rain or Shine provided the tents, Schultz Corp., the contractors at the Roundabout loaned lights. Casella donated trash bins and a dumpster. Flying Cow created a banner for Route 7 while Lake Gaston Signs made a 40 foot banner and sandwich boards. Dorr Oil provided a storage trailer, and Christo's and Wood Fired Pizza provided lunch for all the volunteers each day.

The items were collected and sent by truckload to Sea Bright on Monday where they will be delivered to the National Guard who will then bring the items to the Sea Bright fire station. Sea Bright is nearly inaccessible since the storm and for safety reasons the National Guard will handle all items being donated.

Sea Bright is a small borough with a population of 1,412 (according to the 2010 United States Census) and is located just southeast of New York City and is the eastern most point of New Jersey.

Along with sending supplies, Burr and Burton Academy's film department are seizing this project as a teachable moment. A group of BBA students have already begun work on a documentary. Bill Muench and Jim Raposa will bring the students down to New Jersey to meet with Sea Bright Councilman Reed Murphy and tour the disaster area with members of the National Guard. After its completion, the documentary will be screened locally, they said.


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