Helping hands

Knowing how a natural disaster can affect an area, Loyalsock Township High School students and staff didn’t hesitate to help when Superstorm Sandy thrashed parts of New York and New Jersey.

So about three weeks after the storm left many in the two states with nothing, students and staff loaded a bus and gave their time to helping them piece their lives together.

“When we first got there, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said senior Sarah Miller.

No one knew what to expect, according to students and staff, as the plan rapidly developed from an idea to arriving in Staten Island, N.Y.

“We got board approval (to go on the trip) on Friday and were on a bus Tuesday morning,” said Kelly June, English teacher and organizer.

June heard about trips from her church, and thought that, perhaps, there would a few students interested in going, as well.

But there weren’t only a few students and staff members who volunteered their time to the devastated area, but enough to fill a bus.

And while Miller was trying to find some way of helping before the trip, senior Jackie Shaefer knew what it was like to see your hometown be hit by such a storm.

“I used to live in Florida, so I’ve seen what a hurricane can do,” Shaefer said.

And as students and staff unloaded the bus, there wasn’t much time to be hesitant, as there was work to be done.

“I didn’t really know what we were going to do,” said Aaron Dabback, senior.

Volunteers sorted through donated clothes, stored food products and put together care packages for those in need who would stop by for supplies.

“I couldn’t imagine being in that situation without help,” Miller said.

While handing out supplies, a few students could talk with victims.

“Talking to people who went through it … to see how they needed (daily supplies) really impacted me,” Miller said.

“I was surprised,” Dabback added.

But one group who came to help was one of the biggest surprises for the students as a truck and trailer filled with supplies came rolling up from Wyoming.

“I thought four hours was long,” Shaefer said.

Students were impacted because being so close to Thanksgiving, they knew those volunteers would not be able to make it home in time for the holiday, as they had a 38-hour trip back ahead of them.

June said it was a “giving contest,” as everyone was doing their part.

June also said it was great to see students from all grades work together, despite any cliques that existed before hand.

“I was talking with freshman, hanging out with sophomores and juniors,” Dabback said.

“We all just had a common goal and I think it brought us together,” Shaefer added.

Students said it also showed that any preconceived notions about the school’s students were broken by their act of kindness.

“It shows that there’s so much more to us,” Miller said.

June said it showed students the importance of volunteering.

“We have so much to give. Even if it’s time or a smile,” she said.