'Adopt A Classroom' Movement Nets One Teacher's Room $25,000 In Supplies

LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A school classroom hit hard by Hurricane Sandy got an unexpected gift Monday to help them rebuild.

Paola Servellon was back at Long Beach High School, which was closed for weeks during Sandy’s aftermath. There is still a daily struggle for normalcy in the district, where of its 4,000 students all but 500 were flooded out of their neighborhoods.

“I lived in a shelter with my mom, dad and brother. We lost everything on the first floor,” Servellon said, referring to books and computers.

Servellon is not alone. Some students are actually commuting to Long Beach from Manhattan, while others told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan their own frustrating stories of how being displaced is impacting their lives.

But something extremely unexpected happened on Monday at the school. Trying to rebuild his classroom, teacher Andy Smith and his students appeared overwhelmed as $25,000 worth of school supplies were rolled into history class.

“So what we have are notebooks, pads, and we actually have tablets for each and every one of you. So you can do all your work online,” Dr. Smith said.

Smith was selected by Long Beach alums — their nonprofit foundation, Real Change, partnering with Office Depot to award and reward inspirational teachers and schools in need.

“They asked before how many kids affected by the storm — 85 percent raised their hands — so it means a lot to me to be chosen by the alumni to have this donation,” Dr. Smith said.

“Todd and I were graduates of this school in 1996, and we want to make sure that every classroom gets adopted in this school district, especially after Hurricane Sandy,” Reach Change founder and CEO Liam Murphy said.

The incredible act of generosity was not lost on the students.

“I have only two, three binders at my house that I’ve been using for all of my subjects. So something like this, supplies they provided today, exceptional,” senior David Fuchs said.

Over the course of the next month, multiple celebrities, including Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, will be giving back to their hometown schools; to teachers who changed their lives as this “adopt a classroom” movement goes nationwide.

The premise of the show is to showcase teachers and classrooms and celebrities helping classrooms. There are some big name celebrities on board. You can watch “Real Change: Artists for Education” on April 23 on CBS 2.

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