By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — They’re among the youngest students in the school system, but they helped the victims of Hurricane Sandy in a very grownup way.
Students at Annie Sargent Elementary School, along with their families, recently collected and sent a dozen 40-pound boxes filled with toiletries, trash bags, surgical masks and other cleaning supplies to Staten Island, which was especially hard hit by the monster storm.
Principal Edward Foster said the school community wanted to help the victims of the storm. They soon learned that the greatest needs were not food and clothing, but cleaning supplies, so people could clean up the mess left by Sandy, he said.
Erica Guagenti, a Staten Island native and mother of a Sargent School student, reached out to authorities in her home borough and passed the word back to North Andover.
During the week of Nov. 26, students brought in the requested items. Then, Nov. 30, two Girl Scout troops helped the Sargent students box the supplies.
Michael Baumert, owner of the UPS Store at 733 Turnpike St., took care of shipping the 12 boxes to Staten Island. Rocky’s Ace Hardware provided the boxes.
“It was a whole community effort,” Foster said.
The boxes were delivered to the Rev. John Carlo of the Christian Pentecostal Church on Staten Island, according to Heather Ursu of the Sargent School PTO. Carlo, a former police officer, is distributing the supplies through various organizations.
Helping people in need is not a new phenomenon for Sargent School, Foster noted. Only a few weeks ago, many of the students picked apples at Smolak Farms and donated them to Lazarus House, a Lawrence agency that helps the less fortunate.
The school has also held coat drives to benefit destitute people over the years. Sargent, like other schools in North Andover, advocates the RAISE philosophy. The acronym stands for respect, achievement, inclusion, service and empathy.
Sargent School, which teaches kindergarten through fifth grade, appears to have covered all five of those ideals.