PATERSON, NJ – Sometimes, in the midst of a crisis, there’s an opportunity for the best and brightest to shine. And often, the best way to shine is to serve.
With school canceled and their city in chaos, students from the Kennedy High education complex answered the call, volunteering at the makeshift shelter set up at International High School. They helped set up cots, served meals and kept the young evacuees busy.
"I just loved helping the little kids,’’ said Carla Aliaga. “I spent the day coloring with them. I know their parents are happy that we are keeping their minds off from the storm damage. I would want the same thing if I were displaced from my home. Sometimes a smile and helping hand does a lot."
"I really liked helping people here, it gave me a good feeling," said Mazher Misbah.
Aliaga and Misbeth were among members of Kennedy’s Robotics and College Prep teams offering their services. The attend the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and SET (School of Education and Training) academies.
Mayor Jeffrey Jones visited the shelter and commended the students for their efforts: "I am proud of the work you guys are doing here. You are great kids that are examples to the school district."
The students were impressed with the disaster relief efforts at the shelter.
"The Red Cross did a great job keeping people fed,’’ said Syed Ahmed. “I just can't believe this hurricane did so much damage."
"I am glad we have programs like these to help people in need,’’ said Mohammed Shahanuzzaman. “I am really happy for the Red Cross and Cert guys putting in 24 hours a day to help everyone here. I know the people here are happy for all the help."
The students said the experience enriched them.
"I pray for all the people to get their power and homes back,’’ said Adriana Chumacero. “I get a really good feeling helping all the people here. The children here are so happy to see us that it makes me so glad that I can help them."