Students, staff fundraise to battle effects of hurricanes

By Sarah Sandlow and Sam Morgan, News Editor and Staff Writer

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Senior Alivia Franzese surprises Fitness Center Coordinator Justin Weiner with a pie at the Homecoming Assembly on Oct. 6. Students and staff voted through donations to pie a teacher, which raised money for hurricane relief. Photo by Isabel Vayser.

When senior Larissa Bersh, a former Glenbrook North student who moved to Marco Island, Fla. after her freshman year at GBN, evacuated her home to escape Hurricane Irma, she and her family did not anticipate the eye of the hurricane passing over their community. During their evacuation to Georgia, worries of possible food, water and gas shortages loomed over their heads.

“There really … [was] this element of total powerlessness that I just never experienced before,” Bersh said in a phone interview.

In the past few months, recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria made landfall in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico respectively, as well as in surrounding areas. Clubs and organizations at GBN plan to continue recent efforts, which began in early October at the start of Homecoming week, to raise money and provide aid to affected locations.

Mike Tarjan, assistant principal for student activities, was one of the leading organizers behind the relief efforts.

He said Key Club, Interact Club and class boards were among the many groups that organized activities for hurricane relief. Buckets were passed around to quickly collect money during the Homecoming assembly and the Homecoming football game. Portions of Homecoming ticket sales also went to hurricane relief. Different games such as bocce ball and bozo buckets occurred during lunch periods for further fundraising.

After counting the money raised, Tarjan said GBN raised over $5,000 during Homecoming week. The money raised is expected to go to a school in Puerto Rico. As of now, Tarjan does not know the specific school in Puerto Rico that GBN plans to give the money to.

Senior Arielle Greenberg, vice president of Interact Club, said she was involved in organizing activities throughout Homecoming week, such as oversized games during lunch periods and fundraising for pieing a faculty member and SA Board member in the face.

“It’s just sad to see all the destruction [in places affected by the hurricanes], so … knowing that you … already raised money to make a difference is a good feeling, and you were part of something that’s bigger than you could’ve ever imagined,” Greenberg said.

Interact Club co-sponsor Danielle Colletti said she was really happy to see students participating in the activities planned during Homecoming week to raise money for hurricane relief.

Tarjan said as soon as the school to give money to is chosen, he plans to encourage all staff members to work with their activities to raise more money in the next few months. He plans to organize a pancake breakfast on March 4, 2018 in order to involve the entire community with relief efforts by reaching out to Northbrook officials to help participate in the event. The breakfast is expected to be GBN’s final project for hurricane relief.

Bersh said her home in Marco Island is safe, and she is thankful for all the support she received from her friends back in Northbrook, where she stayed briefly after her time in Georgia.

After hearing about GBN’s relief efforts, she appreciates the help for affected areas.

Senior Emily Sedlak, who helped Bersh during her time in Northbrook, said supporting Bersh felt good. Whether it be going out to dinner or simply being there for Bersh to confide in, Sedlak was always willing to assist her friend.

Bersh said she and her family were lucky the hurricane damage to her community was minimal compared to other areas.

“There’s just this feeling of total and complete gratitude, not only that I didn’t suffer the worst … because of the hurricane, but also that there’s this … global support system,” said Bersh. “That’s a really cool thing to experience and to be at the heart of. And to see all those efforts, not just from neighboring cities but across the country, it really shows you the interconnectedness … of the people in all these communities.”

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Students, staff fundraise to battle effects of hurricanes