Dozens of Schoharie teachers head to Staten Island to help with disaster relief

SCHOHARIE, N.Y.—Dozens of teachers from Schoharie and other local districts are trying to pay it forward, headed to Staten Island Saturday morning to help with the disaster relief effort.

It's a mission of a special kind for those from Schoharie, who will be helping some of the same people who came to their aid last year, after Tropical Storm Irene.

When the relief effort first got underway, the teachers were concerned they might not even have enough people to fill a bus, but not only have their expectations been exceeded, tons of donated supplies are going with them.

“I don't think I've ever seen this town as scared as when Sandy was coming through, when it was possible we were going to get hit again,” says Martin Messner, the President of the Schoharie Teachers Association.

While the threat of Hurricane Sandy was very real to Schoharie, the area was spared.

Messner says they know firsthand what people downstate are going through.

“I said anything you need, we'll be there,” says Messner. “They do. So we're going.”

Messner's says after Irene, a bus full of New York City teachers came to Schoharie to help with clean-up, the effort coordinated by the United Federation of Teachers.

15 months later, roles are reversing.

“No illusions, we know it's going to be a hard, hard job, but we're ready to do it,” says Messner.

“When this hurricane hit, we felt this was our opportunity to help others in need, so we really wanted to pay it forward,” adds Randy Gunther, one of the teachers that will be heading down Saturday morning.

Gunther says he and Messner were happily surprised by the amount of people who are willing to volunteer. The bus will hold 55 people and the sign-up list far exceeds that number.

“It renews the spirit, to see so many people take time out of their own lives, time away from their own families,” says Gunther.

“The generosity is really just amazing,” adds Messner. “You can't underestimate what people are willing to do, because they've lived it. There's a lot of sympathy for NYC right now.”

The bus will depart from Schoharie Saturday morning at 6 o'clock.

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