By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star
---- — A group from SUNY Oneonta began the semester break helping victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Adam Cox, a senior at the State University College at Oneonta, said the Oneonta Relief Corps, a group of faculty, students and staff that formed in October and was planning a Hurricane Isaac relief mission in Mississippi, quickly changed gears to offer help after Hurricane Sandy caused havoc closer to home.
The team that went on the Dec. 15 to 21 trip included students Sarah Weigel, Maria Trupia and Christopher Cure, along with December graduate Timothy Springer and Assistant Professor of Geography Wendy Mitteager, Cox said.
During the six-day mission, the team worked through NECHAMA, a Minnesota-based Jewish nonprofit organization that provides disaster response and training services. Cox said NECHAMA worked from the volunteer fire station in Baldwin, where the team stayed. Team members helped residents and organizations, he said.
The team “mucked” houses that flooded with water and mud when Sandy swept up the East Coast in October, a media release from the college said. Team members hauled out ruined items, tore down dry wall and ripped out kitchen and bathroom fixtures, among other tasks, the release said.
Many recipients were kind and grateful, Cox said.
“It was tough work. … My hands got dirty,’’ Cox, a founding member of Oneonta Relief Corps, said Wednesday. “It helped people get back on their feet, which is more important.’’
Cox, a senior who this semester will be student teaching at Cooperstown Central School and at Afton Central School, said the experience not only helped people in need but also was personally rewarding. Plans are being made for students at the State University College of Technology at Delhi to help with relief needs on Long Island and Staten Island during the March break, Kim MacLeod, director of communications, said Wednesday. Students skilled in carpentry, plumbing and other trades will be matched with needs, she said.
The SUNY Oneonta team members also offered emotional support to victims, listening to their stories and sifting through debris to help save family photos and other personal items, the release said.
The relief mission was the first of several being planned through the SUNY Oneonta’s Center for Social Responsibility and Community.
The ORC organized several fund-raising events that netted nearly $900 to help finance relief trips.
Also, across campus, groups and individuals donated food and supplies for storm victims. The CSRC collected several carloads full of nonperishable foods, flashlights, batteries, sleeping bags, diapers, school supplies and other items, and students and staff delivered the donations to downstate nonprofit organizations for distribution to those in need, the release said.