UF Hillel sends volunteers to New York for Sandy relief

Forty-four Florida students will deliver supplies and help restore hurricane-damaged houses.
Hillel volunteers load a bus

Hillel volunteers load a bus with supply kits for Superstorm Sandy victims. Each kit contains latex gloves, work gloves, dust masks, bleach, disinfectant spray, tile cleaner, trash bags and sponges. Photo by Keith Dvorchik.

Student volunteers through a University of Florida student organization are in New York this weekend delivering supplies and helping clean the mess left by Superstorm Sandy.

A bus of 44 student volunteers and two staff members from UF Hillel left Thursday with cleaning supplies, which are in critical need, says UF Hillel’s development associate, Corby Herschman (BSPR ’11). The students will return Sunday.

The idea for the trip came from students wanting to help victims of the superstorm, Herschman says.

She says the Jewish student organization rented a truck and collected supplies from all over town, including gloves, masks and cleaning products. They were assembled into kits to be delivered to a New York Jewish federation.

Students will work with the Russian-Jewish community in Coney Island to repair houses Saturday, she says. As Floridians, they know a thing or two about hurricane recovery.

Before the superstorm made landfall Oct. 29, UF researchers were in New Jersey deploying a portable weather station to measure it.

UF Hillel Executive Director Keith Dvorchik says the trip was funded by the Boca Raton-based Hands on Tzedakah charity.

Though New York is home to millions of people, Dvorchik says, the outer areas of the city, such as Rockaway Beach and Coney Island, still need helping hands.

Not all the students are Jewish or attend UF, he says. A few Florida State University students and a student from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach joined the 17-hour drive.

Dvorchik says the trip teaches students hard work can make just as much a difference as a check.

“They’re changing individual people’s worlds,” he says of the students. “That’s an incredible statement about the University of Florida, our students and the values we teach our students.”

— Wade Millward (3JM)

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