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Way to Go!: Téa Cotronis, of Port Washington

Téa Cotronis, a fifth-grader at John Philip Sousa

Téa Cotronis, a fifth-grader at John Philip Sousa Elementary School in Port Washington, recently requested that family and friends donate to hurricane relief in lieu of birthday gifts. Credit: Port Washington School District

A Port Washington student chose to pay it forward for her 10th birthday by encouraging family and friends to donate funds for hurricane relief in lieu of gifts.

Téa Cotronis, a fifth-grader at John Philip Sousa Elementary School, reaped $400 last month after she sent out birthday invitations with a note at the bottom requesting the donations. She gave the money to the Children’s Health Fund, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that provides health care to children and families via mobile medical units.

Téa also received more than 50 books for schools affected by the recent hurricanes.

“I heard about the hurricanes and thought I really want to help and do something about it,” said Téa, whose birthday was Sept. 25. “Everyone was super generous.”

The Port Washington school district, in its own effort, has been accepting donations at each of its schools for the Children’s Health Fund, which was founded in 1987 by singer-songwriter Paul Simon and Dr. Irwin Redlener, a well-known public health activist.

“Téa forgoing gifts to help strangers is an incredibly generous and inspirational gesture and shows that there is no age requirement for compassion and upstanding citizenship,” Superintendent Kathleen Mooney said.

Téa, a Girl Scout, plays cello in her school orchestra and participates in school plays. She also is a member of Sousa Helpers, a school group that provides mentoring and community service opportunities.

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