Comsewogue Gives Back with Joe's Day of Service

Comsewogue Gives Back with Joe's Day of Service
Published on 06/17/2024
Elementary students showcasing their Joe's Day of Service project

Dr. Joe Rella, the late Superintendent of Schools of the Comsewogue School District, built a legacy in his community around compassion, philanthropy and mutual support. The district honors his legacy every year with the Joe’s Day of Service project, which launched after Dr. Rella retired in 2018 and took on an even deeper meaning when he passed in 2020. The initiative continues to expand; this year, it featured food- and-supplies drives for various community organizations, heartfelt letter-writing campaigns for veterans, and efforts to support the environment and local ecosystem, among other projects.

“The Joe’s Day of Service event gives us an annual another opportunity to honor Dr. Rella’s legacy,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jennifer Quinn. “We’re so proud of the District’s administration, Board of Education, teachers, students and community members who have created such a great impact in their community through their volunteer work and generosity. We have such a strong support system and sense of togetherness in Comsewogue—it wouldn’t be possible without the example set by Dr. Rella.”

Students at Clinton Avenue Elementary School participated in Joe’s Day of Service by completing several projects throughout the year. Kindergarten students created signs, cards and posters that they delivered to veterans at the Stony Brook Veterans' Home during holidays and special occasions throughout the school year. First-grade students took part in a “Kindness Rocks” project by painting rocks with uplifting messages and sharing them with peers and leaving them in locations within the community to inspire. Clinton Avenue’s second-grade students got involved in Joe’s Day of Service by collecting much-needed supplies for Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption in Port Jefferson Station. In addition to collecting food and supplies, students made blankets for the animals at the shelter.

At Terryville Elementary School, fifth-grade students also created a “Kindness Rocks” garden and “planted” their creations at the district’s community garden on Terryville Road. The school also held a food drive for AGAPE Meals for Kids, which provides students in need with a bag of healthy snacks and food each Friday.

Boyle Road Elementary School students dedicated their projects to a number of causes focusing on environmentalism and mutual support. Fourth-grade classes led an environmental awareness project by caring for and hatching quail eggs. Students learned the important role quails play in their ecosystem and made their own presentations on quail embryology and environmental conservation. Fifth-grade classes lent a hand to Norwood Elementary School students by reading the book Michael Recycle for Earth Day and teaching them the importance of recycling. Third-grade students dedicated their project to supporting incoming second-grade students from Norwood, while fifth-grade students collected funds to create fleece blankets for animals at the Brookhaven Animal Shelter. Another cause students supported was the Nassau and Suffolk Autism foundation, for which students raised funds by selling pencils and puzzle pieces during their lunch periods. Lastly, fifth graders worked all year long with the Sunshine Prevention Center and spent time volunteering and collecting donations for its seasonal events.

Each grade at JFK Middle School took on a different cause for Joe’s Day of Service. Sixth-grade students fostered appreciation for their school’s custodians and aides by giving them handmade thank-you cards and gift bags. After reading the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, seventh grade students learned about the struggles to access clean water in Sudan and sought to help. Students launched a campaign to collect and return used water bottles and donate the funds to Sudan’s clean water efforts. Eighth grade students chose to raise awareness about melanoma and started their project by visiting with a specialist from the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement at Stony Brook Cancer Center. Students learned all about sun safety and organized an awareness walk to help their peers learn about the importance of protecting themselves and others from sun damage. In addition to the above projects, all grades dedicated time after school to making pillows and gift bags for medically fragile children supported by the local nonprofit Angela’s House.

Comsewogue High School also led a number of community-based projects for Joe’s Day of Service. Juniors focused on the importance of drug prevention within their community by inviting the staff and residents of the drug and alcohol treatment program Outreach to speak to their peers. They also created a Red Ribbon Tulip Garden at their school by planting red tulips in the shape of a ribbon to advocate for a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

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