On Wednesday, staff and student volunteers from Charles Finney School in Penfield shared their experiences serving victims of Superstorm Sandy.



On Nov. 11, a team of nine students and two adults traveled together to the fishing town of Highlands, New Jersey, where they spent two days helping those victimized by the storm that swept the northeast.

On Wednesday, staff and student volunteers from Charles Finney School in Penfield shared their experiences serving in a disaster-stricken area after Superstorm Sandy.

On Nov. 11, a team of nine students and two adults traveled together to the fishing town of Highlands, New Jersey, where they spent two days helping those hit by the storm that swept the northeast.

The team partnered with two area churches and sorted food and clothing that had been donated from across the country.

Approximately 1,500 homes were destroyed by Sandy, but those who lived nearby said they felt fortunate that no lives had been lost.

“We decided to be proactive and give whatever we could,” said Finney history teacher and team leader Peter Burch.

The group created a video of their trip and showed it at their chapel service. Footage showed neighborhood streets lined with couches, mattresses, furniture and debris from people’s homes. Passersby saw signs reading: “Free calls” for people who were still without power.

“Going there, I expected there to be damage, but I was not prepared for the extent of the damage I saw,” said junior Nate Abbey.

The volunteers brought blankets to a nearby cafe and spent hours organizing piles of clothing spread across a church gymnasium. They later went to a second location to do the same with food donations.

Although their trip was short, Burch said he and his family will be going back to Highlands on Christmas Eve to bring gifts and more help to residents as they continue to rebuild.

For the students, it was a chance to go outside their comfort zones and make a difference. Junior Caitlyn Morral said the experience of helping those in need was both rewarding and eye-opening.

“I never pictured something like this happening so close to home,” she said. “They were really thankful.”