Bringing relief

Students help community after Hurricane Irma


photo by Chatham Farrell

Junior Brooke Boddiford donates water for the food pantry. The event was held in the front office, where food was organized for those affected.

With heavy rain and wind speeds up to 80 mph, Hurricane Irma bombarded Oviedo Sept. 10-11, leaving extensive damage. Irma passed but left many without power for hours, days, or even a week. The hurricane also left behind trees, fences, and other debris, giving students an opportunity to make a difference in the community by helping clean up.

On Friday, Sept. 15, from noon till 3 p.m., the school opened its food pantry to those who were impacted by the storm, setting up tables full of canned goods and water.

Assistant principal Christy Bryce said the school got more donations than they ever imagined possible. Administrators organized the foods into groups from breakfast foods to fruits and vegetables, and, because of the donations, the school had plenty for everyone.

“We want to reach out to the members of our community that maybe don’t have what they need after getting through with this storm,” Bryce said.

Off campus, students also volunteered to help local people in need. Junior Dylan Fitzpatrick and senior Carson George assisted Kevin V., a disabled senior citizen, bringing him water, food, ice and other supplies. His property had large trees and branches fallen over and downed power lines, so Fitzpatrick and George cleaned up the branches, cut up the trees into logs, and moved the logs away from his property.

“I was aware, even before the storm, of the devastating potential this hurricane had on the community and wanted to make a difference,” Fitzpatrick said.

Students are not only helping in the clean-up effort, but junior C.J. Bain made a difference by donating a generator to junior Nicole Goodrow’s grandfather, Michael Goodrow, for his oxygen concentrator.

“He needs it to live,” Bain said. “We couldn’t let him go somewhere else to power his oxygen.”

Students also crossed county borders to assist in the relief effort. At Orange County Academy in Bithlo, sophomore D.J. McCunney and freshman Hayden Turner helped clean up the campus by fixing fences, raking branches and leaves, and filling buckets of water to help clean inside.

When McCunney found out about the situation of Orange County Academy, he took it as an opportunity to go and help the community in whatever way he could.

“My power was out for a couple of days,” McCunney said, “and it made me realize I should be doing things for others in situations like this.”

Along with McCunney, Turner also found out about Orange County Academy and wanted to contribute to the relief.

“It wasn’t just giving back,” Turner said. “It was working with other people that you had no idea who they are until that day.”

Suzanne Caffery, director of Orange County Academy, calls the community a “very different kind of community.”
“We have so many volunteers that came out to help us,” Caffery said. “Yesterday, I came over to look around the school grounds and the community, and there was so much damage.”

Thanks to McCunney, Turner and other volunteers, Orange County Academy is cleaned up and classes are now back in session.

Meanwhile at Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, the girls basketball team sold hotdogs and hamburgers to families who have not been able to have a hot meal. After seeing the damages of the storm, the team decided they wanted to be a part of the relief.

“We wanted to help our community, showing husky pride to clean up and show our community we are one big family,” junior Cailyn Muglach said.

From those who pitched in to give back to the community, to those who provided relief to families who could not get food, students like Turner realized the importance of lending a hand when needed.

“I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it, but I ended up being happy to help to give back knowing that I made a difference,” Turner said.