Carroll students give back to Sandy victims

In the two months following Superstorm Sandy, students from across Carroll County have come together in different ways to support devastated communities in New Jersey and New York.

Students in the Textiles and Fashion Careers Department at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster constructed 388 fleece hats to donate to Sandy victims, according to instructor Catherine Harris.

Harris said her 14 students began engineering and constructing the fleece hats as part of their "Mad Hatter" project, before anyone had ever heard of Superstorm Sandy.

Around the same time Sandy hit the East Coast, eighth grade students from all over the county were coming into the Career and Technology Center for tours. Four groups of more than 20 eighth graders each visited the center on various days.

"We had so many hands with the eighth graders coming in, and I thought, what can we do, something that would be meaningful and something they could really do," Harris said. "We came back to our Mad Hatter project, and thought it would be a neat way to help others and give back."

Students at the Career and Technology Center have done projects to give back to others in the past, Harris said, like making blankets for Project Linus or donating blankets to local nonprofits like The Shepherd's Staff.

But this time was different, Harris said, because not only were Career and Technology students involved, but eighth graders were able to take part, too.

"When they were here we talked about Hurricane Sandy and asked if anyone has friends or family who were affected by that, and of course they did, so they were able to identify with those people," Harris said. "They were very, very positive and uplifting. When I looked at their faces I actually could see that they knew that they were helping someone."

While students at the Career and Technology Center got hands-on in their efforts to give back to victims of Superstorm Sandy, others across the county took part in fundraising efforts, according to Carroll County Public Schools Media and Communications Program Manager Brenda Bowers.

At Parr's Ridge Elementary School in Mount Airy, students and staff raised $1,351.72 to donate to the American Red Cross in support of Sandy victims, through a program called Penny Wars, where classrooms competed against each other.

Students in Liz Haff's fourth grade math class at Mount Airy Elementary School also held a fundraiser for the American Red Cross, raising $2,720.60 from Oct. 31 through Nov. 9.

Many of Haff's students have family and friends in New York and New Jersey, and one class member had family from New Jersey living with them.

"Not only were the students successful in raising money for the Red Cross, but this was a valuable learning experience for them as well," Haff said.

In the South Carroll area, Liberty High School adopted the community of Oceanside, N.Y., which was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

The Town of Oceanside sustained major damage to its schools and largest church, which housed a pre-school, and many homes were damaged and families displaced.

Liberty students and staff collected infant supplies, hats, gloves, scarves, blankets and bedding, batteries, cleaning supplies, toiletries, gift cards and monetary donations, which were delivered to Oceanside a few weeks ago.

In North Carroll, students at Shiloh Middle School are collecting monetary donations for an elementary school in Belle Harbor, N.Y.

According to Shiloh Middle School Art Teacher Steve Reigel, the elementary school in Belle Harbor lost all of its art supplies due to damage from Superstorm Sandy.

Reigel said he is working with his art students this semester to raise money for art supplies, and he will do the same thing with his new students when the spring semester begins.

He said he hopes to send a gift card to an art supply company to the school in Belle Harbor sometime before Christmas.

"Even if we don't raise very much money, even if it just buys them a few blocks of clay and some colored pencils, that will make a difference," Reigel said. "We just want to do our part to help."