OCEAN GATE – A small town can make a big difference.
That’s the lesson instilled in the kids at Ocean Gate Elementary School. They recently raised $850 to contribute to Bay High School in Panama City, Florida, which was severely damaged when Hurricane Michael hit the area hard in 2018.
The $850 was a significant number. It’s part of the Florida school’s area code, and had become a slogan, “850 Strong,” just like we had “Restore the Shore,” said Alisa Capuano, a member of the PTO.
Some of the kids might be too young to remember Superstorm Sandy in 2012, but their parents do. In the aftermath of the storm, people were gutting their homes, bringing their ruined belongings to the curb. Hurricane Michael did the same thing to that area in Florida. Much of the school was destroyed, and they had to operate out of temporary trailers.
That’s why it was so important to show students that we’re in this together, Capuano said. The idea of “community” is more than just your neighborhood; it’s the global community.
This ties in to one of the fundraisers that was held. The school sold bracelets made by 4Ocean. These bracelets, according to 4Ocean.com, are made from recycled materials pulled from the water. Every bracelet purchased pays workers to fish about a pound of debris out of waterways.
The school sold 158 bracelets, 97 of them by students. That means that their efforts removed 158 pounds of garbage. A bracelet costs $20. Of that, $10 was kept for the fundraiser and $1 went to Save Barnegat Bay.
The ceremonial oversized check was signed by the kids on the back, and was on display at Grandparents Day.
Of course, since this all revolved around the school, there was an educational component to it. Children learned about the Barnegat Bay, and teachers incorporated the environmental causes into their lesson plans.
Another fundraiser was an auction held in spring at the Ocean Gate Yacht Club.
“It feels good to do good,” she said. “We’re a small school but we can make a big impact.”