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Sunset Park middle schoolers raise money for Bronx fire victims

936 from 936
Liam Giordano (right), social studies teacher and advisor to student government, with four members of the Student Leadership Council.
Photo courtesy of Arts off Third

Students at Arts off 3rd, a Sunset Park middle school, have raised hundreds of dollars in donations for the victims of the recent Bronx fire that took the lives of 17 New Yorkers, including several children. 

“Arts off 3rd centers the Arts in all of our instruction. That focus enables our students to celebrate diversity and expression and encourages them to be advocates for themselves and for others,” said Donna Nastasi, founding principal of the school. “I am so proud of our students for their tremendous efforts to serve the New York City community in a time of need.”

The Student Leadership Council at the school, which is technically called MS 936, spearheaded the initiative to raise funds for those displaced by the devastating fire at the Twin Parks apartments in the Belmont section of the Bronx — collecting $936, an homage to their school’s technical name. 

“It’s impressive and we are incredibly proud of their hard work,” said Liam Giordano, a social studies teacher and advisor to the Student Leadership Council. “It’s honestly an honor to advise them and guide them, and essentially facilitate their ideas and initiatives to give back to their school and also New York City as a whole.” 

An arts-based audition school on 59th Street near Third Avenue, the student government hit the ground running on the fundraiser on the first day of school after the Jan. 9 fire, using the entirety of the club’s budget to buy snacks and ice cream to sell, said Giordano.

“The very first weekday after news had broken about the fire, the student government quickly mobilized,” Giordano said. “They spent all the funds that they had available stocking up on things they could sell to fundraise.” 

The 20 children in the student government also made posters and solicited donations from other classrooms to collect $936 in only a week and a half — that was sent to the New York City Mayor’s Fund, which is providing assistance to families of the fire, on Jan 20.

Students said that it felt great to give back to neighbors in their greater community. 

“The Bronx families affected by the deadly apartment fire lost all of their essentials and the money we raised will help them get back on their feet,” said Kate, a middle schooler at Arts off Third in student government. “I feel really good about raising money for these families because it is a really important cause.” 

The fire, which resulted from the use of a space heater in an apartment, quickly sent plumes of smoke throughout the 19-story building, as the doors to the unit and the nearby staircase were left open, despite a law requiring automatically-closing doors. 

Among the victims were eight children, including a 2-year-old and two 5 year olds. 

While some residents have been allowed to return to their homes, many others continue to be displaced, and others are in need of serious medical treatment — leading many New Yorkers to lend a helping hand with whatever cash they can spare. 

Those who would like to donate to the Mayor’s Fund can do so here.

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