Following the devestation left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, there was some hesitation about whether or not to continue plans to visit the northeast with our student groups. However, we were assured that New York City was ready for us if we were willing to make the journey. Two days before departing, Blue Ridge Tours teamed up with Greenville Middle Academy to turn a normal class field trip into an unforgettable, and unprecedented, experience. Dr. Bob Palmer, principal of Greenville Middle, and Steve Sulligan, owner of Blue Ridge Tours, sounded the call to the students, parents, teachers, and some local churches and friends: if you are able, bring supplies needed for the relief effort to Greenville Middle Academy before the trip departs on Tuesday evening, November 13th. The results were astounding. In two days, the donated gifts totaled over 400 fleece blankets and dozens of boxes of power bars for relief workers, water bottles, and cleaning supplies.
The students took these items to the town of Sayreville, New Jersey, where they were greeted by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who personally thanked them for their support and willingness to serve. Sayreville, hometown of Steve Sulligan, suffered extensive damage from the Hurricane and was in desperate need of the donated supplies.
The students also visited the town of Moonachie, New Jersey, where a levee broke, causing flood waters to wipe out many buildings including the police station and fire and rescue squad buildings. What this town needed was manpower, and Greenville Middle was happy to help. The students, parents, and teachers helped to deliver boxes of supplies to many homes in need, and what would have taken one person a few days to accomplish was finished in a few hours. When asked about the trip, Dr. Palmer said that it was a “great opportunity for our Beta Club members” and a good way to learn a little bit about service. As for the sacrifice of giving up some of the touring aspects of the trip, Palmer states, “It was worth it for the experience that they got to have.”
Blue Ridge Tours is proud to have been a part of this experience and we applaud the efforts of the Greenville Middle School community. Our thoughts continue to go out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and we hope that the northeast is back on its feet again soon.