Though Hurricane Sandy struck almost a month ago, its devastating impact lingers in the Northeast. Assistant Athletic Trainer Jessica Lydon hopes to offer much-needed relief to those still suffering in the storm’s wake.
After hearing from her sister and brother-in-law , teachers for the Union Beach District, that its schools were struggling to rebuild, she decided to start a school supplies drive at Swarthmore. Sponsored by the Athletic Department, the drive will be giving all its donations to the Union Beach Memorial School in Union Beach, New Jersey, Lydon’s home state.
Donations of any kind – writing supplies, classroom items, or gift cards – can be dropped off in boxes located in the Athletics Front Office, Shane Lounge, Kohlberg Coffee Bar, and the Science Center Commons. Monetary donations can be made in the bookstore, at the athletics concession stands during home games, or directly to Lydon. The drive will end December 14th.
“There are these students who don’t have their classrooms and who don’t have everything they need,” she said. “The school has been completely demolished, and doesn’t expect to reopen until at least next month. For now, they have set up temporary classrooms in a local church.”
When Lydon first started the drive, she had only one donation box set up outside Tarble Pavillion. “When you’re in Athletics, you don’t get up to campus much,” she admitted. However, her relief efforts have now expanded to all parts of the College. “The response has been really good, for knowing not that many people on campus,” she said.
As of now, Lydon has over fifteen boxes of donations waiting in her car. She even received over 200 binders from a woman who is shutting down her business and was looking to get rid of all her office supplies. “I have like, twelve of those boxes [of binders] shoved in my car,” she said.
Rose Pitkin ’14, who sits on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and Administrative Assistant Anna Everetts, have both helped Lydon place more donation boxes throughout campus.
Pitkin was particularly keen about spreading campus awareness about the Hurricane’s lasting effects.
“You know, we saw a lot of houses, roads, and boardwalks that were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. However, schools seemed to be overlooked,” Pitkin wrote in an email.
Looking to extend the drive even further, Lydon is also hoping to expand to the town of Swarthmore. “We have permission to place a box in the Borough offices and are hoping to reach out to the Co-op to place jars for both monetary donations and boxes for supply donations,” wrote Pitkin.
From 50 dollar Target gift cards to books to envelopes filled with cash, Lydon has seen almost every type of donation possible. She was even able to raise over 300 dollars at the men’s soccer Centennial Conference Championship weekend. However, she is most surprised by the emails and notes that students, faculty members, and alumni have sent her thanking her.
“I thought it was really neat. I was getting personal emails. . .people were leaving notes on their donations,” she said.
Lydon still urges for people to donate, and hopes to remind them that there are still other communities trying to recover, even several weeks after the storm hit. “That first week afterward and that second week afterward, everyone is thinking, ‘Oh, let’s give donations.’ But this happens with everything – it kind of trails off,” she said.
“Every little bit will help,” Lydon continued. “Even stuff to decorate their classrooms. . .teachers need their supplies too.”
“For [Swarthmore] to reach out and help my hometown. . .it makes me proud to work here,” she said.