Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 14 October 2011 00:00
Two weeks ago, a rule was put on the spot by Mineola; it lived up to its meaning. After Hurricane Irene, The Mineola School District PTA with several other student and parent based volunteer groups, organized the “Golden Rule Project.”
The groups have been collecting school supplies to aid the Binghamton/Owego area of New York State, which suffered flooding of immense proportions. The Golden Rule, “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself,” holds a whole new meaning now.
The MacArthur Elementary School in Binghamton was under 4 ½ feet of water while the Owego Elementary School, located directly on the Susquehanna River, is now found to be toxic due to flood waters and is labeled a hazardous area, where nothing can be salvaged, according to Robin Bischoff and Phyllis Badinger of the PTA.
Robin Bischoff, a Binghamton native and Phyllis Badinger put collection boxes in the lobby of every school in the district and Mineola High School served as the central staging area. Along with district superintendent Dr. Michael Nalger, a Binghamton University alum, Bischoff and Badinger drove up to the Binghamton/Owego area with the supplies in tow.
Bischoff and Badinger came before the board of education last week to recap the success of the project.
“The outpouring we got from the community was phenomenal,” Badinger said. “We just want to thank everyone. When we drove up there, they were pleased with Mike [Nagler] being there, being an alumni and Robin being there, a Binghamton native.”
Bischoff agreed with those sentiments. She spoke very highly of the Mineola community, who generously gave a helping hand during the project.
“We had many volunteers helping during the project, from many different schools,” she said. “A big shout out to principal Ed Escobar, who managed to always have big strong high school kids ready when we had heavy lifting.”
The project raised over $1,500 in gift cards alone. That total does not include the immense amount of school supplies that was donated.
Six television stations and the main newspaper in the Binghamton area was waiting for the arrival, swarming the convoy as it pulled up.
“It was like a red carpet,” Bischoff said. “But it wasn’t about that. We just wanted to help.”
Bischoff stated further that donations are still coming in. Approximately $70 will be turned into gift cards and boxes of supplies are at the Hampton Street School, according to Badinger.
Badinger said when the Mineola High School Marching Band goes up to Syracuse this year she would have a friend meet her there to bring the supplies up to Binghamton.
“I just want to thank you for the wonderful service that you’ve done,” board president Christine Napolitano said.
Nagler stated that he’s not often embarrassed or humbled, but the trip up north made both occur.
“You got me involved in something that I said I was just going along for the ride,” he said. “But it turned into a wonderful experience for me personally. What may be commonplace for us, this community always donates. We pride ourselves on that. The Binghamton/Owego area was blown away by this endeavor.”
So was Nagler. He received a thank you card from every superintendent in the area. The alumni association at Binghamton also sent Dr. Nagler a gift…a gift of sentimental importance.
“It’s not my actual mailbox but the actual mailboxes that were in my dining hall when I went to college and when they tore the building down, they saved them and made banks out of them,” Nagler said. “This brought back a flood of memories. I still have trouble opening it up like I did back then.”