Sixth graders from Weehawken’s Roosevelt Elementary School delivered non-perishable items to a North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue stationhouse Nov. 17.
The delivery was part of a collective effort by the department, through the five towns it serves, to gather items for Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico.
Stationhouses in North Bergen, Guttenberg, West New York, and Union City also collected items from locals.
The students who walked to the Engine 5 stationhouse on 46th Street and Park Avenue were Peer Leaders, who volunteer with younger students in the Weehawken school system.
“We started collecting donations after Hurricane Maria; there was also an earthquake in Mexico,” said Alider Pratts, a battalion chief for the department, who organized the drive. “We saw that some of the other organizations were collecting much needed emergency supplies for disaster relief, so I reached out to the chief of my department, who also reached out to the mayors of Weehawken, Union City, North Bergen, and Guttenberg, and they authorized me to start collecting donations.”
Different church groups throughout North Hudson will deliver the supplies to the victims, Pratts said.
“It feels really good,” said Javier Cosme, 12, one of the Peer Leaders who helped deliver the items. “It feels good to help out people in need. We’re sending all this stuff.”
Cosme said his father’s cousin, who lives in Florida, was also affected by the recent hurricane there, and had to briefly live in a shelter.
“Watching on the news, it’s devastating to see how they’re struggling in these places,” said Ryley Cheplic, 11.
“We worked every day on trying to get classrooms to donate more,” said Jill Barberise, a teacher at Roosevelt and facilitator for the Peer Leaders program. “We made a connection with everybody. It was a great community effort between the firehouse, Peer Leadership, and the PTO at Roosevelt School.”
Helping around town
In a few weeks, the Peer Leaders will begin writing letters to servicemen overseas for Christmas. Recently, they wrote letters to pediatric cancer patients at Hackensack University Medical Center. The group is also known for its annual donation drive in spring, for abandoned animals at the Bergen County Protect & Rescue Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving Bergen and Hudson counties.
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