By Emily Drooby
Cereal, toilet paper and noodles were all part of donations and help going to the homes of families whose children attend Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy.
Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy is located in Corona, Queens, one of the neighborhoods hit hardest by the coronavirus. Principal Cristina Ann Cruz and teachers are stepping in to help those in their school community that have been affected.
As of when this report was filed, City data showed about 49% of people tested positive in that neighborhood’s zip code, the largest number anywhere in New York. Many of the surrounding Queen’s neighborhoods that the school services also had high numbers.
The school has had at least 90 students and family members who’ve come down with the disease, and at least 70 percent of their families have lost at least part of their incomes.
“In times of crisis, I would hope and pray that someone would step up to the plate,” Cristina told Currents News. “It’s paying it forward, giving without asking for anything in return. It’s knowing your kids, it’s knowing your community.”
Cristina and her staff did step up to the plate, organizing an ongoing food drive. They used teachers who were already communicating with families because of school to figure out what the need was.
“She told us to check to see if anybody has a need, so we went to them privately and they let us know what is going on and that they did have the need, which is hard,” explained teacher Maureen Sheehan. “A lot of people have such pride, but we have to help each other.”
The school accepted monetary donations through a crowdfunding site, and raised about $5,000. They also have been accepting food and money donations from local businesses, non-profits and individual donors.
They’ve been holding their food drive twice a week. Staff risks their own health to come build and deliver the boxes to their students.
“It’s very personal, personal is the only word I can use, it’s very personal to us now it’s helping this community, which is our community,” said Sheehan.
It has become more than just a box of food. It’s hope. It’s a sense of community. It’s love.
“I am feeling so happy, because I see them so happy and, say, Thank you, thank you,'” explained teaching assistant Viviana Jerez said,
Since March, the school has handed out hundreds of boxes.