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Holiday Park students help storm victims

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 10:30 p.m.
Students at Holiday Park Elementary School in Plum got involved in collecting donations for victims of the storm that recently ripped the Northeast. They collected more than 1,000 items for New Jersey residents. Submitted photo
Students at Holiday Park Elementary School in Plum mobilized to help storm victims in New York and New Jersey by collecting donation items. Submitted photo
Organizers received about 1,000 donations from students, which were boxed up and sent to storm victims. Submitted photo
Toni Stewart and Lisa Baggio will drive out from Philadelphia to pick up the donations. They will be delivered Monday to Ventnor Elementary School in New Jersey. In the front row are Maxwell Bondi, 10, a fifth-grader at Holiday Park Elementary and his brother, James, 7, a first-grader at Holiday Park Elementary. Submitted photo

Jennifer Bondi watched in horror as Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast.

Bondi, 36, of the Holiday Park section of Plum, related to the destruction on a personal level. Bondi grew up on the East Coast, specifically Langhorne, Pa., just under two hours from Long Beach Island, N.J., that sustained enormous damage.

“It's like (Hurricane) Katrina, how badly the area was affected,” Bondi said.

Bondi, a graduate of Neshaminy High School, touched base with a high school friend, Toni Stewart who shared photos and stories with Bondi about Stewart's efforts to help hurricane victims in New Jersey and New York.

The photos and stories moved Bondi, and she decided to mobilize her own relief effort.

“I knew I had to reach out,” said Bondi, the mother of two children who attend Holiday Park Elementary School in Plum.

Maxwell Bondi, 10, is a fifth-grader, and James Bondi, 7, is in first grade.

Bondi initially decided to get her son's first-grade classroom involved in collecting items to help victims of the hurricane. Next, the project mushroomed into an all-school endeavor.

Bondi, under the direction of Principal Francis Sciullo, wrote a letter to send home to parents requesting donations of a variety of items including hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, winter hats and gloves, trash bags and small stuffed animals.

Bondi said Stewart made contact with an elementary school in Ventnor, on the coast of New Jersey.

The school recently reopened, and a portion of the building is serving as a shelter for residents who were displaced from the hurricane.

As of late last week, the drive resulted in more than 500 items donated to the cause.

Also, Holiday Park students submitted drawings and personal messages of encouragement to the hurricane victims.

Stewart was planning to pick up the items late last week and deliver them to the elementary school, Bondi said.

“We want to help all those families,” Bondi said.

“I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful school and community.”

Sciullo praised the students' initiative and concern for those in need.

“This type of relief activity is an example of the sense of community our students bring to Holiday Park,” Sciullo said.

“Our students want to give back in some way, shape or form. This is part of our building-wide CHAMPS effort (Caring, Honesty, Attitude, Manners, Pride, Support). Our students show concern for one another and others.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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