Like many schools across the nation, Union Hill High School in Union City organized a fundraising drive to help the World Trade Center victims' families shortly after the attacks on Sept. 11. However, the students did not just place a few cans around the school and ask their friends and teachers to donate money. Members of the school's student council, Hispanic Honor Society, Spanish Club, Key Club and a "Lore and Society" class sold buttons that the students could wear and message paper to be placed on a message board inside the school.
"We wanted to do something different rather than just collecting money in cans," said Magda Diaz, the president of the student council. The student council organized the button drive at the school. Each button sold for $2.
According to Union Hill High School Principal Robert Wendelken, the bulk of the $2,700 that was collected came within the first two and a half weeks after the attacks. Wendelken added that the students wanted to keep the drive going for as long as possible.
"They kept getting a demand for the pins," said Wendelken. "They wanted to continue raising money. They felt that it warranted it."
The pins were designed by Union Hill Video Production teacher Paul Lopez and were made by the students.
The $2,700 was donated to the North Hudson Emergency Services Charity Fund on Dec. 5. This fund was set up by members of the North Hudson Regional Fire Department, the police departments in each of the five North Hudson towns, and the emergency medical technicians and dispatchers. The money will go to 15 families living in northern Hudson County, as well as to the New York City Widows and Orphans Fund.
The five towns involved in the fund include Union City, West New York, North Bergen, Weehawken and Guttenberg.
According to Firefighter Lenny Calvo, who organized the fund drive, the fund, which began collecting money with a nine-day boot drive throughout the five towns, has already collected more than $500,000.
"The families will appreciate it," said Union City Police Captain Henry Kaden. "They really need it."
"It's amazing," said Lenny Calvo. "Checks are still coming in."
Some checks to local families have already been distributed. Calvo said that he expects to deliver all of the remaining checks within two weeks.
The Hispanic Honor Society at Union Hill also created a message board in the main hallway of the school where students could pay to post a message about the tragedy. Depending on the size of the paper bought, it sold for fifty cents or a dollar. Money from this fundraiser was included in the school's total donation.
"We wanted to know what people were feeling about the tragedy," said Zully Zamora, the president of both the Hispanic Honor Society and the Spanish Club. "Some people wrote how they were feeling and others just wrote their names."
Wendelken said that the message board will remain up for the rest of the year.