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Island school helps family hit by Sandy

East Coast communities are recovering from the effects of Superstorm Sandy, and Bainbridge Island is lending a helping hand.

Students and families from Saint Cecilia Catholic School have banded together to help a family across the continent they’ve never met.

“Response I got from the families in the school exceeded my expectations,” said Matt Makowicz, a parent of a student at Saint Cecilia’s.

“There’s a lot of relief effort, but it’s not enough because it’s such a massive scale,” he added.

Last week, Makowicz came to the school asking for help for his brother’s family in Keansburg, N.J., an area severely hit by Sandy.

“It’s a blue-collar town. It’s one of those towns in New Jersey that’s on the water, but not a vacation type of town,” Makowicz said. “There was a lot of water in the streets, and a lot of those houses were built right on the ground.”

His brother, wife and two kids ages 12 and 9 have been without power since the storm hit on Oct. 29. They don’t expect power to return for another three weeks.

What’s worse is that a new storm is brewing off the East Coast and is expected to impede recovery efforts.

“As we speak they are being forced to evacuate again because of the new storm,” Makowicz said.

Word was spread through the school about Makawicz’s family, and St. Cecilia’s students came through with canned goods, freeze-dried food, batteries and even cash — all sent straight to assist the New Jersey family in need.

“There was over a hundred pounds of food that we shipped,” Makowicz said. “There was about three weeks’ worth of food.”

Makowicz noted that he was a little surprised by the massive support he received by just simply putting out the word. A lot of people still don’t realize how bad it is in areas hit by the storm, he said.

“I think people kind of forget how many people are affected,” he said. “It’s not just one family, it’s entire communities, whole towns, businesses, kids and adults, blue- and white-collar people.”

“People don’t realize there are a lot of families right now struggling to keep portions of their homes warm enough and to feed their families,” Makowicz added.

But on Bainbridge Island, people continue to give.

“I didn’t want to ask for too much, but at least three people yesterday said that they talked with other people and they want to give more,” Makowicz said. “People want to continue to give, which I think is just great.”

Makowicz plans to send another box of donations to his brother’s family.

“Neighbors have been helping each other out there,” he added. “So anything extra, he can spread that wealth around a little bit and help out the neighbors.”

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