UNION BEACH — Forty students from the East Brunswick campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools traveled to Union Beach to help with storm relief and cleanup efforts.
The students, who were bused to a firehouse in the devastated Monmouth County community, were assigned to food preparation, cooking, sorting of donations, demolition and refuse removal. They joined volunteers from as far away as San Francisco.
“It was my best day ever, helping people who need help,” said 10th-grader Edgar Lopez of New Brunswick, who cut potatoes and picked up debris.
“It was great, helping out,” added Amber Brimage, a 10th-grader from North Brunswick, who spent her time sweeping.
“It felt good to help,” said Hailey Turiello, a ninth-grader from Sayreville. “I never really did anything like this before.”
Kyra Robinson, a ninth-grader from Sayreville, said she helped make 100 sandwiches for bag lunches.
“We listened to people, talked with them,” she said. “It made me feel really grateful for what I have. It could have been me.”
“I was salvaging through the wreckage, trying to find items (to return to people),” said Ashley Harsanyi, a ninth-grader from Fords. “It was surreal. We always see hurricanes on TV, but this was New Jersey.”
A demolition crew was made up of 11th-graders Josh Robledo of Perth Amboy, Devonte Ross of New Brunswick and Daviel Alicea of Sayreville, and 12th-grader Michael Hingel of Piscataway.
“There was so much work to do,” Hingel said. “It was really depressing and sad.”
The students, from both East Brunswick Vo-Tech and the School of Career Development, were accompanied by teachers Rachel Bicsko, Pam Rodgers, Sarah Rubin, John Sagar and Zach Levine.
East Brunswick Vo-Tech and the School of Career Development at East Brunswick also hosted a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for members of the school community who were impacted by the storm and their guests.
About 180 meals were served on Nov. 20, with culinary and baking students preparing the food, supervised by culinary teacher Michael Roth and baking teacher Linda Fitzgerald.
“We had a lot of faculty and staff volunteers who helped serve food, clean up and interact with the members of the community,” said Robert Feldman, principal of the School of Career Development. “It was a tremendous event. Everyone who participated felt wonderful about it.”
The evening also included giveaways of toiletries, paper towels, bleach and other cleaning supplies.
The Middlesex County Vocational & Technical School District has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge.