Hunting Ridge Students Send Blankets to Hurricane Sandy Victims

A group of students from Hunting Ridge reached out to the Special Education School District 75 in New York City and then sent 50 blankets to the district.

A group of students from Hunting Ridge Elementary School in Palatine joined forces to make and then send blankets to a school district affected by Hurricane Sandy. 

The following press release provided by District 15/Hunting Ridge Elementary School details their efforts: 


In a time when children are feeling scared and unsure and we must push forward with our lives, there are still miracles happening all around us. 

One such miracle started when a group of Hunting Ridge School students decided they needed to make a difference. Some of them had overheard their parents and teachers talking about Hurricane Sandy and the devastating effects it had on family, friends, and children.

In turn, they approached their teachers to ask if they could put together some kind of a project to help those hurt by the hurricane.

 As luck would have it, the teachers were friends and brought up the touching suggestion as a collaborative effort.

With that, Hunting Ridge’s Hurricane Sandy Project began.

Fifty-five students met and brainstormed what would be the most advantageous project for them to do. From collecting toys, clothes, and money to making blankets, the choices were narrowed.

Some students researched shipping costs while others wrote letters to the school’s parents, asking for their help.

A few groups worked to contact people in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to determine who would benefit most from their donations. Eventually, letters were finalized, money was collected, and fleece was bought to hand cut and tie into blankets to send to schools in the New York City area.

 But which schools? The students still did not have a destination for their donations. Their teachers—third-grade teacher Kristie Charles and fifth-grade teacher Elizabeth Stephan—had left the project in their hands, and they had found a few good leads, but still had not connected with anyone.

It was a Monday morning, and, as their classmates busied themselves in the classroom, a group of three boys sat in the hall with their teacher’s cell phone, trying to get through to Special Education School District 75 in New York City.

The secretary answered the phone and inquired as to why the kids were calling.

They explained themselves and they were put through to Gary Hecht, District 75’s superintendent. He was so touched by their gesture that he immediately accepted the blankets, explaining to the boys how much their donations would mean to the kids in his district.

But somehow those donations had to make it all the way to New York City.

After making 25 blankets, the students still had $100 left to cover shipping costs.

As it turned out, though, they were able to use that money to make 25 more blankets, as the grandfather of three students involved in the project—third graders Maria and Stella Varon and fifth grader Michael Mondus—stepped forward to pay the shipping costs.

So, on Friday, December 21, the students, teachers, and families who made the project a success met to say thank you and ship the boxes to New York.

“It was a touching moment for us all,” said Mrs. Stephan. “It’s wonderful to think this started out as just a thought between two children and progressed to 50 fleece blankets on their way to New York City, so thank you to everyone who helped get this project off the ground.”

Upon receiving the blankets, Mr. Hecht again shared his gratitude in an e-mail he sent to the students’ teachers:

“My heart is filled with joy knowing that your students would collaboratively join together to help those in need,” he said. “Having the opportunity to speak with your students reminded me why we do the work we do as educators. It was very interesting that your students were eager to share their acts of kindness with me, which was clearly indicative of their generosity. I see your students as the stars that light the world and make it a better place for everyone whose life they touch.”

Kelly Spotak January 31, 2013 at 10:49 PM
My daughter enjoyed participating in this worthwhile service project. I'm thankful to Hunting Ridge, especially the amazing Kristi Charles, for allowing our kids to do this!
Brenda February 01, 2013 at 08:57 PM
My son was involved in this wonderful, heartwarming project! I again want to thank our fifth grade teacher, Liz Stephan, who is always so encouraging and excited to teach and guide our children. My son was eager to help the kids from the Hurricane Sandy area.
Terry Sofianos February 01, 2013 at 11:55 PM
It was so exciting to see the Hurricane Sandy Blanket Project develop and to meet with the students during their planning phase. They enthusiastically drafted letters which explained the project to parents and families and used their strong writing skills to support their intentions. There were so many real world, teachable moments for the kids-collaboration, problem solving, fundraising, public relations, and service to others. I could not be prouder of these students and their supportive and guiding teachers, as well as all the families that contributed to the success of this ambitious endeavor in many different ways. Congratulations from Mrs. Terry Sofianos, Principal of Hunting Ridge!
Gentiana Itellari February 02, 2013 at 04:21 AM
My daughter was one of fifth graders who gave her contribution on drafting letters for the project. It was amazing to witness the enthusiasm of the students about the outcome and success of this great mission. Thank you Mrs. Stephan and Mrs. Charles for giving the opportunity to our children to feel important and learn that they can make a difference in people's life at any stage of their life. Also thank you Mrs. Sofianos for your support.


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