Just as we came upon the sixth month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, a unique arts organization has covered Gerritsen Beach with dozens of stars to bring hope and inspiration to the children of the disaster stricken neighborhood.
The Stars of Hope organization brings together schoolchildren to paint colorful wooden stars with a word or message of hope and inspiration, which are then posted on utility poles and other public places around the neighborhood. The organization has already blanketed the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Staten Island and Howard Beach with the beautifully adorned stars, and last week they began covering Gerritsen Beach as well.
The stars are made by students across the country, sprouting from a spirit of giving back to New Yorkers who have traveled to other parts of the nation to help in disaster relief efforts in the past. The Daily News reports:
The first batch of stars were made in Ellijay, Ga., a small town hit by a tornado last year.
Thousands of volunteers from New York Says Thank You Foundation, a service group formed after 9/11, travelled to Ellijay to rebuild an animal rescue center that was destroyed by the twister. Stars of Hope is part of the foundation.
“We wanted them to know how much we appreciated what they did for us,” said retired administrator Charle Smith, 68, of Ellijay, Ga. “The stars bring the people out of the depths of their despair sometimes.”
She and two friends drove up in a pickup truck the week of Thanksgiving and put up about 1,200 home-made stars.
The stars were cut out by volunteers and students at the local high school and painted by children visiting the rebuilt Build an Ark Animal Rescue.
More stars are being made in communities in Arkansas, Texas, Kansas and North Dakota, where the foundation previously helped with storm-recovery projects.
Already dozens are in place in Gerritsen Beach and more than a thousand altogether in Sandy-ravaged communities.
We asked local photographer Lisanne Anderson, who had already photographed some in the Rockaways, if she would check out the neighborhood and send back a collection of photos. In addition to the photos, she reported back to Sheepshead Bites that the organization seems to be doing a good job fulfilling its mission.
“The people I spoke in Gerritsen Beach were generally appreciative of this effort,” Anderson said. “The idea of these stars is to give people a good feeling, and it appears that is generally what occurs.”