DALTON -- Lily Calaycay is a senior at Wahconah Regional High School via New Jersey, where her friends endured upward of two weeks without electricity after being hit last month by Hurricane Sandy.
On Sunday, she'll be joining about 20 Wahconah classmates along with teachers and parents to bring not just one, but two school buses worth of donations collected by the Dalton school and community to the area of Coney Island, in south Brooklyn, N.Y., where members of New York's Occupy Movement are now focusing on helping storm survivors.
"This is a cause close to my heart," said Calaycay, beaming as students walked past her in the halls on Thursday morning with armloads of brooms, canned goods and clothing to be sorted.
Last week, students in teacher Jared Shannon's government classes, mostly seniors, announced a service campaign called "Fill a Bus" to collect supplies.
The effort is incentivized, making each item collected worth a certain number of points -- 10 points for each coat, five points for each container of baby formula, for example. Students and the teacher in the homeroom earning the most collection points will each earn $10 iTunes gift cards, but Calaycay said she believes her school's willingness to help goes far beyond the incentive.
"The students in this school have put in an amazing effort. Everyone really cares," she said.
Shannon agreed, noting that students have gone to lengths such as helping to get a bus donated from Dufour Tours, to donating portions of their paychecks to help purchase items. They are also pitching in to rent a second bus.
Seniors Joe Smith, Meghan O'Boyle, Morgan Smith and Jensynn Cimini were busy sorting and bagging baby clothes in Shannon's classroom on Tuesday. They said that though they've done some community service projects before, they've never been involved in something of this scale.
"When I first heard about it, I didn't think it would be that big. But if we were in that situation, we'd hope someone would want to help us too," Cimini said.
Shannon said some parents and students are nervous about traveling to the storm-struck site, particularly because they've never experienced such extreme devastation. To help quell concerns, School Re source Officer John Marley will be debriefing students today about what they might see and how they might interact with people in distress.
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