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Teachers find speedy post-Sandy support on DonorsChoose

Teachers across the city and region are turning to DonorsChoose, a website that allows educators to solicit funds for small-scale projects, to get their classrooms righted after Hurricane Sandy.

The site set up a dedicated page featuring only projects from schools affected by the powerful storm and so far, according to DonorsChoose’s current statistics, individual donors have given more than $50,000 to projects that will reach more than 19,000 students.

The quick pace of donations means that many projects are completed very soon after they are posted, giving schools an immediate boost at a time when goodwill is running high but coordination to deliver donated supplies to where they are most needed is only now being established.

In one remarkable example, a science teacher at Brooklyn International High School raised $1,080 from a single donor after explaining how his students’ science materials were destroyed when the school building lost power. “Unfortunately, our school cannot afford to replace the several thousands of dollars in chemicals and restriction enzymes we lost due to Sandy,” he wrote.

Other city teachers have gotten money to buy toys for students at P.S. 15 in Red Hook, which was flooded and has been relocated; give supplies to colleagues at a newly co-located school; replace graphing calculators for students at Staten Island’s New Dorp High School.

Some projects to help city schools still need funding.Teachers at Brooklyn Studio Secondary School are asking for $400 to buy packaged soup and cereal bars for their students, many of whom are now staying in temporary housing; and Ms. Estrada, a teacher at Far Rockaway’s P.S. 43, is asking for the basics to rebuild her classroom in her school’s new location.

Ms. Estrada writes on her donation request page:

Far Rockaway is a tough neighborhood. Money is very scarce. Parents have difficulty providing healthy snacks, lunch, supplies and clean uniforms under normal circumstances. Hurricane Sandy has left my students and their parents in great turmoil. My goal this year was to create an environment where my students could escape their hardships, and we no longer have that.

These resources and supplies will allow my students to escape the tragedy that they lived through and allow them to focus again in the classroom. I would love to return to my students at least the smallest sense of normalcy. The carpet, notebooks, pencils and basic school supplies will allow my students to worry about one less thing and feel comfortable once again in their second home. These materials will be one less thing lost.

There are also dozens of projects posted by teachers on Long Island and in New Jersey whose schools are struggling after the hurricane.

Online, small-scale donations are just one way that people from around the country are pitching in to help city schools that are in need. Here at GothamSchools, we’ve heard from several people looking for guidance about which schools need help, including from schools in Cumberland County, N.C., that want to pay forward the aid they received after tornados struck the region last year.

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