Around the Island

Island to island — High school senior steps up for Haiti

JULIE LANE PHOTO Sophia Strauss with the first of what she hopes will be several boxes of goods bound for Haiti to help victims of Hurricane Matthew.
Sophia Strauss with the first of what she hopes will be several boxes of goods bound for Haiti to help victims of Hurricane Matthew.

Sophia Strauss was studying hurricanes in teacher Dan Williams’ marine science class at Shelter Island High School when Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti early last month.

That island nation had not yet recovered from the 2010 earthquake and what crops had been planted since then were ripped apart by Matthew.

Mr. Williams wondered aloud whether someone might take up the cause of helping the Haitians. Ms. Strauss, a 17-year-old senior said she thought: “Why not me?”

As a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), Ms. Strauss has previously been involved in fundraising projects, but this was the first time she took one on her own.

Assisted by NHS adviser Janine Mahoney, she was able to connect with a Stony Brook nursing student, Joseph Ryan, who is scheduled to leave in early December on a mission to Haiti with members of Sigma Theta Tau, the National Honor Society of Nursing. Ms. Strauss launched an effort here in the past week to collect items needed by Haitian hurricane victims that will be transported by Mr. Ryan. He hopes, Ms. Strauss said, to take with a massive amount of material collected throughout Long Island.

Among the items needed are boxes of gallon-sized Ziploc bags, new toothbrushes and toothpaste, bar soap individually wrapped or boxed, washcloths, rolls or container of items like Tums, tubes of anti-fungal cream and money, Ms. Strauss said.

She has already heard from a number of classmates inquiring about what she needs to pack the boxes and is hoping residents from throughout the community will reach deep and offer up some items as well.

She’s also considering asking the IGA manager if she can set up a table outside the store and ask shoppers to purchase items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste to donate to the cause.

Ms. Strauss has also been busy posting announcements about the drive. Her deadline, she said, is November 18 to get boxes filled and delivered to Mr. Ryan.

In the past, Ms. Strauss has helped raise funds through group efforts with her fellow students such as the NHS’s annual “Souper Bowl of Caring” food drive that benefits the local food pantry.

She will also be participating in the “Cardboard Campout” on the evening of November 7, when NHS students and friends each raise at least $100 to contribute to Habitat for Humanity and spend the overnight in boxes on the lawn of the school’s lawn.

In addition, the students will have future dates with Habitat organizers to help construct a house somewhere in Suffolk County.

If tackling the Haiti project on her own is a little daunting, Ms. Strauss is optimistic that the generous community that supports so many good causes will once again step up — this time for the people of another island.

Boxes are in the lobby of the school. Anyone wishing to contribute items or money can do so during school hours.