donation · paperback books · picture books · short chapter books · slice of life

Cleaning out My “Basement Classroom” for a NYC School.

I wasn’t going to write about the box I packed up tonight. I was going to keep my donation between me and Maggie, who is trying to help a school in Staten Island that lost a lot during Hurricane Sandy. But then Maggie posted this on Twitter:

Maggie B. Roberts ‏@MaggieBRoberts

Donations are rolling in for PS 38 in Staten Island! Kids in need of school supplies.Send to school!TY @raisealithuman

Seeing as my donation became public, in her Tweet I decided it might be okay to write about what I did tonight. After all, parting with some of the books I packed up was incredibly hard.

Maggie Beattie Roberts, who is one of my former classmates from TC, is a staff developer at the TCRWP. She has a heart of gold. Ever since Sandy passed, she’s been working tirelessly to help those in need. Earlier this evening she posted the following on her Facebook page:

I’m gathering small donations of school supplies for one of my little schools on Staten Island that was caught in a direct hit by Hurricane Sandy. The principal shared that many of her students and their families are in shelters and the school suffered a severe loss in materials.

If you are looking for a small way to donate, message or call me and I’m happy to take them a care package from you!

They are in need of:
-books (esp, for 2nd-5th grade)
-post its

I had been thinking about donating a bunch of the books from my former classroom, but wasn’t sure how to do it. Maggie’s post seemed like a good way.

My personal belongings from my former classroom are mostly contained in these boxes. (I’m sure I could get rid of at least half of the items in the boxes, which are old files and outdated curriculum guides, if I took the time to go through them.)

You see, my former classroom is located in my basement. While I’ve been out of the classroom since June 2009, I still have many of my school supplies, books, files, and such located in my basement. My mother has pleaded with me to consolidate my boxes since it’s a mess down there. However, my husband hasn’t complained about it. Seeing as my mom doesn’t live with us, I haven’t made much headway on those boxes since July 2009 when we moved in.

I’ve been saving all of those things for “some day” because some day I want to return to the classroom. While I enjoy the consulting work I do, I know I want to go back and teach fourth or fifth grade some day. That some day might be 10 years from now, but I know it will happen.

I hate our basement because it’s dark, cold, and messy… kind of like people’s homes that have been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. However, our basement is a controlled chaos. I know where everything is. So, I canceled my pity party and immediately went over to the supply cabinet and removed a bunch of pens, pencils, magic markers, sentence strips, pencil grips, baskets, etc. that I thought another teacher could use.

And then I went over to the shelves that hold many of the books I purchased through the years for my classroom. I went through them, trying to identify the ones that were on the reading levels Maggie specified. I grabbed paperbacks that I knew would be right. I paused as I found books that contained post-its with my former students’ handwriting. I paused when I recognized Kevin’s handwriting. He had filled a book with post-its and returned it to the classroom library without removing them. Then I saw Emely’s handwriting on another post-it. Wow! These kids are in in 8th grade now (from my last class in Rhode Island). Time sure passes quickly.

A box of books I kept in my home office in Providence.

Convinced I didn’t have enough books, I went over to a box, which was labeled “Stacey’s Office.” Instead of finding classroom library books, I found books that used to be in my home office. Books I used for minilessons. Books I loved. Books I wasn’t sure I wanted to part with. What if the Hurricane blew through here and washed these books away and you had nothing? I asked myself. With that, I inhaled and grabbed a few for the box I was packing up to send to Maggie. I ignored the books I wanted to reread, the books I thought Izzy might like to read, and the books that might go into the classroom I hope to have again some day when I want to go back to work full-time. Someone else needs them today. So I kept searching.

Once I realized I could barely lift the box, I decided to call it quits for the night. I typed up a letter to the principal and told her to contact me if she needed anything else. Besides, my parents live an hour away from the school where these books are going so I’m sure I could send another box up with them in a few weeks if the need is still there.

My husband taped up the box. “Find out what time the post office closes tomorrow, I’m taking it in. It’s too heavy for you and I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

“Okay,” I said in a small voice. “Thank you.”

He’s doing his part too.

The box I put together this evening.

If you’re interested in helping this school, then please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Maggie.


13 thoughts on “Cleaning out My “Basement Classroom” for a NYC School.

    1. Hi Anita!

      That would be great.

      Here are your options:

      1) You can send a box of the specified items care of principal. Here’s the address Maggie gave me:

      Address: 421 LINCOLN AVENUE, STATEN ISLAND, NY10306

      2) There’s an Amazon Wish List set up for the school. If that’s easier for you, then go that route. Here’s the URL:

      Thank you for your generosity!

      My best,

  1. I think this was really generous and brave and kind of you. I KNOW how hard it is to part with well-loved books. Know that they will be loved and so appreciated by their new owners.

  2. Stacey, thanks so much for the info as to how I can help. I have not been able to stop thinking about the people that have been devastated by Sandy… probably why I wrote about it as well today. I could send books but it may be easier to do the Amazon wish list. Thanks again!

    1. Stacey, would you have an email address for the principal at the SI school? I ask because I have a few things in the works getting our kids involved to help the kids at this school. Here is my contact email Thanks again, I feel so good knowing that we are trying to help out and make a little difference! Lynn

      1. I don’t have her e-mail address since I don’t know her personally. If you use Twitter, find Maggie (@maggiebroberts) and send her a message. She works w/that school and might have more insight.

  3. Everyone wants to do what they can…and some of us, YOU, make it happen through action and imagination and generosity of spirit. Thank you, Stacey!

  4. Thanks Stacey. I’ll go through Amazon. What I would pay with postage, I can afford new books. I’ve been going through my books since I’m moving, and now I’ve been sharing with my interns to help start their own collection. It is hard to give them away, but I can’t use everything, & I’ve been trying to use the library a bit more. I love that you remembered students’ handwriting. Special memories-right?

  5. Your basement looks a lot like my own. Thank you for sharing about your donation. Some students and teachers will enjoy those books for years to come.

  6. What an inspiring post! Parting with well-loved books for the good of others. I loved the picture of what went into your box.
    I also ended up at the Kindness Project blog from your comment on my post. Do you know of a similar blog that focuses on students? I teach sixth grade and would love to have them participate in something similar.

  7. Wow, so inspiring! I love how you took us through your decision-making process, especially the part where you asked yourself about what if the hurricane would have blown through your stuff! What a great way to convince yourself to part with those books! I’m sure the students and staff at that school will be so grateful. Thanks for sharing the information about how to help them!

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