Schecter students help Sandy victims
NORTHBROOK — When Hurricane Sandy sacked parts of the eastern United States in late October, Suzy Hakimian’s students at Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago in Northbrook set about repairing and healing.
“We have tikun olam here,” said Hakimian, translating the Hebrew phrase to “repairing or healing the world.”
They sent gift cards to 12 families of students and faculty at Schechter Long Island School who lost homes and vehicles.
The deadly storm hit Nassau County on the island the hardest and killed more than 80 in the U.S. said the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
By Monday Solomon students in Northbrook had 31 cards ready for sending that will benefit four Schechter schools on the East Coast.
“This effort ties into the core values of our community. It’s all about caring for others in times of joy and sorrow here in the Chicago area and around the world,” said Linda Foster, a Wilmette resident and CEO of Solomon Schechter Day School.
Other cities with Schechter schools around the country and Canada have sent money and gifts from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Montreal.
“It’s been very humbling because these families are used to giving, never recipients,” said Cindy Dolgin, head of the Long Island School with 400 students.
“A tenet of all Schechter schools is doing loving acts of kindness.”
Dolgin said while FEMA will help impacted families, some did not have enough backup savings to cover sudden expenses.
“So we’ve focused on families and faculty here who’ve received tuition assistance from us,” she explained.
“And home contractors don’t wait for FEMA money to begin repairs. They leave.”
Dolgin also said Schechter Long Island School was one of four Schechter schools that regained electrical power after the storm ended Oct. 31 and became a shelter.
Fifteen-minutes later, people showed up and Dolgin realized a relief fund must be started.
“Other Schechter schools were hit as hard or worse than us. That’s when I put the work out there to do the drive,” she said.
“An angel gave us $64,000 for the families worst hit.”
While some students evenly dealt with the storm’s destruction, others have not, she said.
“Some children are extremely rattled. Our social workers are very busy.”
Solomon Schechter students Shira Hirsch and Amia Ross have worked to collect the cards.
Hirsch recently returned from a holiday visit to New York where she saw crews rebuilding bridges.
“It’s important to show support for people who lost their homes there,” said seventh-grader Hirsch, an Evanston resident.
Ross learned how a small group of people can make a difference.
“I know what I’ve learned here will be applicable later in life, which is that a normal, everyday person can make a difference anywhere,” said Ross, of Winnetka.
For more information on the gift card fundraiser, visit www.schechterLI.org.