2002-05-25 / Community

Benefit For Children’s 9-11 Book

A special benefit to assist in the publication and distribution of a heartfelt book of children’s illustrations and poetry is being held on Friday, May 31, 2002 between 6 and 9:30 p.m. at Doherty’s Restaurant in New York City. The published work will be given to all 343 families of lost firefighters of 9-11.

Soon after the tragedy of September 11th, "Common Cents New York," a Community Action Organization, offered small grants to schoolteachers and their classes to create a way of contributing to the well being of others, and to help New York heal.

Students at Class 310 of P.S. 114, comprised of 5th and 6th graders, worked in collaboration with and under the guidance of Anne-Marie Ruggiero and Christina Russell. They have dedicated their time and efforts to preserving the memories of 9-11’s fallen heroes.

What began as simply a challenge to obtain a small grant became a way for students of Class 310 to express their feelings and sincere thanks to the brave men, women and children of New York and the U.S.A.

The class began by jotting down thoughts about bravery, not really knowing where they would go from there. As the days progressed, words turned into poetry. This was not an easy task. Poems continued to change through discussions held and questions answered. Working together, the emotional expressions were shaped into the poetry. Computer generated and hand-drawn pictures were added to give the children the freedom to completely express their feelings through the arts.

As the book was developing, a second tragedy hit the small, tight knit community of Belle Harbor where P.S. 114 is located. The students now not only had to endure the pain and fear of the destruction of the Twin Towers and the loss of lives, but they had to deal with the emotional roller coaster brought on by the crash of Flight #587 just four short blocks from our school. Nevertheless, the students diligently worked to complete this project.

With the book nearly complete, the students and staff realized that it had turned to something even more than they expected. Cliff Russell, brother of fallen Firefighter Stephen Russell of Engine #55, and Ex-Firefighter Steve Buscemi, also of Engine #55, assisted the school by reaching out to various contacts to raise additional funds to help fulfill their dream to deliver the 70-page book to all of the families of the 343 fallen firefighters. Any additional proceeds will be used to benefit the firehouses and the men and women that so proudly serve.

The benefit will be at Doherty’s Restaurant and Pub, located at 218 East 52nd Street, New York, New York, and it can be reached by calling 212-750-7173. The benefit admission of $35.00 includes an open bar and appetizers, live musical entertainment, and appearances by ex-firefighter Steve Buscemi and celebrity guests.

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