New York and New Jersey schools rebuild after Hurricane Sandy

Jan 11, 2013
Students at The OLC School unpack their new books. It’s now been a little more than two months since Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast, and across the tri-state area, devastated areas continue to rebuild. Though the damage has been tremendous, from it have come stories of kindness and resilience as communities band together to recover. In an effort to help replenish the books and learning materials destroyed by the storm, Scholastic donated one million books to the schools and libraries that suffered severe losses. More than 100 schools in the New York and New Jersey area will receive between 500 and 10,000 books to help rebuild their school and classroom libraries. The book distribution, carried out in conjunction with Kids In Distressed Situations, Inc., began this week at three area warehouse locations (Community FoodBank of New Jersey, HopeNYC, and Legacy Center NYC). On Tuesday, I had the privilege of visiting The OLC School in Jersey City, NJ–one of the hundreds of schools in the tri-state area severely impacted by Sandy–to watch firsthand as children received their 7,000 new books. The OLC School had just finished their Scholastic Book Fair when Sandy hit, and though they packed up their supplies and stored boxes as high above ground as they could, no sandbags could keep the dining hall from being flooded with seven feet of water. OLC principal Anna Mae Stefanelli still recalls seeing the remnants of the Book Fair floating in the seawater. Thanks to a very active and supportive community dedicated to getting the school back up and running, The OLC School was able to re-open after 12 days. Mrs. Stefanelli expressed her gratitude, noting that there were other schools in the area that weren’t so lucky. A Scholastic Book Fairs truck came to the rescue at the last minute to help with the delivery. When the books were delivered to The OLC School on Tuesday, staff set up on tables in the area devastated by the flood so that students could comb through the boxes and see their new books. (Click here to view the CBS segment about the OLC donation.) Class by class, kindergarteners, second-graders, and fifth-graders stopped by to explore the titles. I love working for Scholastic, and seeing the looks on the students’ faces as they received the books only intensified that feeling. “Is this for real?!” one student cried. “All these are for us?” another exclaimed, wide-eyed. The children ran for the boxes, calling out excitedly to one another as they pulled out titles they recognized. “I love books about dinosaurs,” one five-year-old told me as he proudly held up his latest find. “And you’re sure these books are going to be in our classrooms?” another asked her teacher. Though the damage caused by Sandy was extensive and the the road to recovery challenging, there’s something about being able to put books and learning materials into the hands of children that is truly humbling and eye-opening. A huge, heartfelt thanks to all of the organizations and volunteers who made this book donation possible (especially C.H. Robinson and TCSI – Transland for transporting the donated books from the Scholastic warehouse in Missouri) and to the teachers, students, and communities in storm-devastated areas for showing us what it means to come together as a community and rebuild. For a complete list of all the schools and libraries receiving books as part of the Scholastic donation, please visit: