Jul 28, 2014
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GCTA Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser Nets More Than $30K

Funds will be used to assist school district employees who have suffered severe losses from Hurricane Sandy.

It isn't often that students hang out with their teachers at a restaurant or bar but that's exactly what Garden City High School ninth grader Edy Oellrich and Erin (10 years old) and Tommy (12 years old) Flanagan got to do Wednesday.

It isn't common to see your teacher as "bartender for the day" either, like Stratford School third grade teacher Tia Albig, Garden City Middle School physical education and health teacher Marisa Reichman and Garden City Middle School physical education teacher Dorothy Burke.

The students and their parents were at the popular Tin Alley Grill for a fundraiser to support the teachers, staff and administrators who work for Garden City public schools and live in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The Garden City Teachers Association (GCTA) organized the fundraiser for approximately 25 people who lost their homes from Long Beach, Freeport, Oceanside and other areas.

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The GCTA was able to raise more than $30,000, which will be used to assist school district employees who have suffered severe losses from Hurricane Sandy.

Claire Ellerman, a photography teacher at the high school, said she lost everything in her ranch house on the south shore but so many people have opened their doors to her family.

Tin Alley Grill is a "mom and pop" family restaurant owned by Dean and Chris Patalano. Tin Alley generously donated 40 percent of its profits to support the GCTA.

"It was a nice night and everyone had a good time. I gotta give the GCTA a thumbs up on this. Until Thanksgiving, anyone from Garden City who comes in should mention the fundraiser and we will continue to donate the 40 percent to the GCTA," Chris said.

One of the organizers was Kevin Pollitt, computer teacher at Stratford School and GCTA executive board member. He was proud of how everyone went out and collected raffle prizes worth more than $10,000. There were grand prizes, door prizes, 50/50 and Chinese auction ones that included gift certificates to many of the national chains and local establishments such as the Garden City Hotel, Madison Taylor Salon, V Spa and more. Grand prizes were: a dinner for four aboard a private yacht off Montauk, a $500 gift certificate to Apple and an iPad Mini.

"While it took over a week for us to be able to return to work, once we were back it took only hours to learn of the devastation that Hurricane Sandy inflicted on our colleagues," Pollitt told Patch.

"By late morning, we had a rough idea of how many employees had their lives turned upside down, leading to the GCTA leadership to discuss ideas of how we could help those impacted. Knowing fundraisers had been held at the Tin Alley Grill before, we approached them with the idea and they were willing to help with open arms. Due to the additional storm that closed school on Thursday, we ended up having three school days to plan the event, but everyone involved rose to the occasion.

"The event would not have been a success without the outpouring of support that was displayed in both the planning stage and at the actual event. Thank you to the following: the leadership of both the PTA and SEPTA, who got the word out to their members and assisted in creating some of the raffle baskets; the local businesses in town that were able to donate raffle prizes; our teachers and staff who created raffle baskets; our school district administration who graciously postponed scheduled afterschool meetings to allow all employees to get to the event.

"A special thanks to Tin Alley Grill - Chris and Dean, with their entire staff, were phenomenal from the day I first spoke to them. Without their willingness and support, we wouldn’t have been able to pull off this event with such little time.

"Most importantly, thank you to the Garden City community – our students, parents, neighbors, friends, businesses, PTA, SEPTA, TMA, GC PBA… the list goes on and on."

Upcoming events will be advertised, including an upcoming benefit concert.

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