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Kids pitch in to help superstorm Sandy victims across Long Island

The family and consumer science department at East

The family and consumer science department at East Islip Middle School came up with an inventive way to help victims of superstorm Sandy. The "Bags of Love" program involved a collection of hotel-size toiletries while students made more than 300 bags to put them in. Credit: Handout

Whether it’s selling a cup of hot cocoa topped off with whip cream or collecting thousands of pounds of food, children of all ages are learning what it takes to help their neighbors recover from a national disaster like superstorm Sandy.

Ten-year-old Kate Dahlman and her friend Emily Callahan, 11, sold hot chocolate last weekend in Greenlawn to help Sandy victims.

“It was really cold out that day, so we couldn’t sell lemonade,” Kate said. “We wanted to sell hot chocolate to warm people up.”

Together the girls raised a total of $155.50 and plan to personally deliver the money to the Red Cross in Huntington.

“Kate said I’m going to try for $20,” said her mother Heidi Dahlman, 57, of Greenlawn. “They brought out signs and sold cups of hot cocoa for 25 cents. People were scraping the bottom of their bags to buy a cup. They were so amazed with the generosity of people and it all started with a simple idea of how can we help.”

The Patchogue-Medford High School Robotics Team 329 collected 1,300 pounds of food and $160 to donate to Island Harvest, a Long Island-based food bank.

“It felt good when they finally told us the number of families we would be feeding,” said team member Justin Ferrari, 16. “It made us want to do more and donate more to help families.”

East Islip Middle School students joined the effort by using their sewing skills to make care packages dubbed “Bags of Love” that they filled with toiletries.

“We collected thousands of toiletries,” said Dani Franzese, 29, one of the teachers in the department. “The kids made washcloth drawstring bags using hand sewing and machine sewing techniques we taught them.”

The toiletries are still being delivered to areas like Babylon and Lindenhurst, Island Harvest comfort stations and the Red Cross.

On Nov. 5, the first day the North Shore School District reopened, food donations flooded into the district’s five schools. So far more than 6,000 pounds has been collected, with more to still be weighed and brought to Island Harvest.

“I would estimate that it’s somewhere around 10,000 pounds,” said Ed Melnick, 57, superintendent of the North Shore School District. “In addition, we collected pet supplies and pet food, cleaning supplies and toys.”

Melnick said student were eager to take part in the effort and collected food in their neighborhoods, advertised the collection efforts and raised money for other schools, like East Rockaway High School.

“The response of the kids and the families underlies the very caring responsive community this school is in,” Melnick said. “It is a wonderful learning opportunity for these kids, to understand that there are people out there less fortunate than them that need help.”

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