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Giving Thanks by Giving Back

South Carolina sisters collect donations for Sandy relief

By Thayer Loose | null null , null

britney and brianna gallo volunteering on staten island
Briana and Britney Gallo (middle) with members of the Sandy Rebuild Staten Island – Yellow TeamS. (Photo courtesy Thayer Loose)
When Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, sisters Britney and Brianna Gallo watched news coverage of the storm from their home in South Carolina. They were bothered by the amount of destruction they saw. And news about the storm hit close to home – Britney and Brianna were born in the area and have family who still live in New Jersey.

After the storm, the sisters started hearing stories about their family members' experience. For example, they learned that their aunt and cousins lost electricity for more than 10 days. Then there was the massive amount of destruction.

Britney and Brianna knew they had to help. So they spent their Thanksgiving break on Staten Island, giving back to the area that gave them life.

Brianna, a ninth grader at North Augusta High School, approached her faculty sponsor for Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). Brianna's original idea was to set up a fundraiser through her school to raise money for hurricane relief. But the school district's policies would not allow them to collect monetary donations.

Instead, Brianna's teacher Stephanie Ramey suggested they find people to donate jeans and blankets. So Brianna and her club set to work making posters and announcements getting students and faculty to pitch in and help.

Britney, a seventh grader at Paul Knox Middle School, also wanted to help collect goods for the hurricane relief effort. She approached her Beta Club sponsor about gathering relief donations from her school. Together, they decided to collect cleaning supplies and diapers.

In just one and half weeks, the Gallos collected two full pick-up trucks' worth of goods. They packed them onto a 5-foot-by-8-foot trailer and began their 12-hour journey to the devastated Northeast.

The Gallos had heard reports that Staten Island was the "forgotten borough," Brianna noted. So the family decided to land there.

The loud clamber of jackhammers greeted the Gallos, when they arrived. "It was shocking! A lot of the places we used to go to were gone," explained Britney.

"What shocked us, though, the most was the awful smell!" Britney added.

The unexpected, strong odor of mildew combined with large amounts of irritating dust was so intense that the family had to cut short their time on Staten Island since both Gallo daughters suffer from asthma.

Despite the dangerous conditions, the Gallo's immediately began to look for those who needed their South Carolina help.

"We stopped in the middle of the road where we saw people sorting through all kinds of goods," Mrs. Gallo explained.

There, the family met up with the Sandy Rebuild Staten Island – Yellow TeamS who helped them distribute some of their donated items. A former South Carolina church associate also turned up nearby and happily accepted the clothing-related items.

The Gallos know that help is still needed.

"Just don't forget," they all agreed.

The family continues to keep in touch with the contacts they made on Staten Island. They plan to return in a few months as a family to pitch in to rebuild.

Mrs. Gallo is extremely proud of her daughters' efforts. "They have a good heart! They are great girls!"
You can share your Hurricane Sandy experiences and find more coverage of the storm and its aftermath on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog.

Find out how kids across the country are helping the Hurricane Sandy relief effort — and catch up with the Kid Reporters' on-the-ground reporting during the storm — in the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Special Report.


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