Westwood resident Paula McLaughlin spoke to a her friend in New York Cathy Kenny not long after Superstorm Sandy had swept through the East Coast.
Kenny, a teacher at Holy Cross High School in the Queens neighborhood of Flushing, told McLaughlin told 30-50 of the students at the school were homeless because of the storm. McLaughlin asked what she could do, and decided to put a call-out on her Facebook page for donations.
She got a very quick response, as Needham Bank got her a van to fill with various supplies, including blankets, toiletries, underwear, socks and school supplies. She also received $3,000 in gift cards. The Norfolk Golf Club also got involved by getting a collection together, and the van turned out not to be big enough, so someone got her a Penske truck.
“I was just amazed,” McLaughlin said. “It was a little bit overwhelming, but very inspiring.”
People donated clothes as well, and McLaughlin was also amazed that many were new clothes, or clothes that had been dry-cleaned and on hangers.
“Everybody kept asking: ‘what can we do?’” McLaughlin said.
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McLaughlin went down to New York for a weekend to bring all the donations Holy Cross. She and her husband Paul, a Boston police officer, are now planning on going one more time before Christmas, this time to give gift cards to the students, as many of their families are struggling to use their incomes elsewhere and not on holiday gifts because of the situation where they find themselves.
The Holy Cross Principal, Father Walter, suggested Target, Macy’s and Modell’s as good places to purchase gift cards for students, when McLaughlin asked him.
McLaughlin will be collecting gift cards until December 15. If you are interested in donating a gift card for students at Holy Cross High School, you can email McLaughlin at Pmclaughlin1965@aol.com.