Donors Choose Projects Help Students Displaced by Hurricane Maria

A Meriden elementary school is rolling out a new program this year aimed especially at helping students displaced after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last fall.

Hanover Elementary School psychologist Amanda Gonzalez is thrilled for the new school year.

"NBC Connecticut helped me. After you guys shared my story, within days my project got funded," Gonzalez said.

She's receiving more than $600 in bilingual books through DonorsChoose.Org to help students express their emotions.

"Each donor, I want them to realize when they donate to these projects, no matter how small your donation, you do a huge difference for that teacher and not only are you impacting the teacher, but you're inviting 20+ students in my classroom," she said.

It's a huge relief for this educator who would have had to reach into her own pocket.

"It's so costly sometimes to go out and purchase those items on your own so I just think the Donors Choose is just such an amazing resource for educators to use," she said.

The materials will help students who lost everything when Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico.

There are about 60 students at Hanover Elementary this school year who were displaced from Puerto Rico and that number could rise.

Bilingual teacher Alicia Lorenzo says the new program is a tremendous help in the classroom.

"This year, I'm going to be focusing more on their social, emotional learning because I think they'll have more success when they're taken care of as a whole," Lorenzo said.

It's a fresh start for students and teachers.

"I'm really excited for this school year and getting the materials and putting them to good use. Think everybody from the staff to the students will benefit so I'm really grateful," Gonzalez said.

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