Donations help schools return to normalcy


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes
THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Their Christmas gift came in the form of a check.

Councilmember James Sanders once again provided his district’s schools with his yearly donation of $2 million.

“We are in the midst of a series of tragedies so great that they seem to undermine the very notion of a holiday season,” said Sanders. “But in the midst of tragedy, we can still find reason for hope.”

School Districts 27 and 29 received Sanders’ donations, split up between 32 schools, equaling $50,000 for each. The funds, acquired through the council’s budget, are designated for science and technology upgrades for schools.

On Wednesday, December 19, Sanders’ chief-of-staff and hopeful predecessor, Donovan Richards, donned a Santa Claus outfit as he presented a check for $2 million at P.S./I.S. 270 in front of a crowd of students. A similar scene went on later in the day at P.S. 197, Sanders’ former elementary school.

“It’s a very, very good time [for the donation], especially for our families,” said P.S. 197 principal, Christina Villavicencil.

P.S. 197, located in Far Rockaway, was spared from structural damage during Sandy, but many students’ homes were devastated. School take-home materials were lost, much of which included books that teachers were encouraging students to read at home.

With the $50,000, Villavicencil plans to reinstate the read-at-home policy and invest much of the money in books and, if possible, electronic books.

This is the 10th year that the councilmember was able to make this donation for his district’s schools, and students are very excited for upgrades to come.

Victoria, a 2nd grader at P.S./I.S. 270, is hoping her class can get Kindle Fires, and more lap tops so she can “play math games.”

“It means even more this year,” said Richards in his Santa suit. “The schools are all getting back to a point of normalcy.”

P.S./I.S. 270 Principal Chayvonne Harper plans to use the grant to install new Smartboards in every classroom, and expand the access of technology to her students.

“We’re extremely excited to receive this grant,” she said.

Sanders hopes to keep his district’s students abreast of the latest technology, for he believes that it is vital to ensure them a good future.

“We owe it to our children, now more than ever, to follow through on our pledge to them, to help them secure a better future for themselves,” he said. “Maybe, in that, we can salvage a little bit of the holiday spirit.”