Widener Law digs in with New Jersey relief efforts
Public Relations - Published: November 15, 2012

Donations collected on the Harrisburg campus for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Delaware campus SBA officers Kayleen Piszczek, Marta Skuza, and Caroline Donato discuss the Student Bar Association's Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Photos from the trip to New Jersey.

Some of Hurricane Sandy’s hardest-hit victims received a helping hand from Widener Law recently when dozens of Delaware campus students traveled to New Jersey for volunteer relief work.

Nearly 40 students climbed aboard a chartered bus, paid for through a donation by alumnus John T. Carroll III ‘81 of Cozen O’Connor, a member of the law school Board of Overseers. They made the excursion to New Fellowship Church in Ventnor Beach, N.J. on Saturday, Nov. 10. They jammed the luggage cargo hold with food, clothing and other supplies donated by the campus community, and made delivering it all to the church their first order of business.

“We brought in more donations of stuff than they had in their place already,” said student Marta Skuza, who helped organize the Student Bar Association-led trip. She planned it with fellow students Kayleen Piszczek and Caroline Donato.

The students split into groups after making the delivery to the church. Some stayed to organize the donations, others went to work in houses in Ventnor Beach and Ocean City. In all, they helped do demolition or cleanup work in eight homes.

Skuza and six others in her group spent the day in the wet, dark basement crawl space of an Ocean City senior citizen’s home, removing insulation that had been soaked by flood waters and was destined for mold infestation. With only one way into and out of the crawl space, the home owner was incapable of doing all that heavy lifting alone. Two contractors had refused the job as well. Then the law students showed up, directed there by New Fellowship Church.

Attired in Widener Law T-shirts donated to their efforts by the bookstore and admissions, they formed something of a bucket brigade. For six hours, bent over with their feet in mud and waste – while in the company of some pretty spectacular spiders – they passed the wet insulation over pipes and under wires to the outdoors, where it was deposited in a dumpster.

“It was extremely heavy and dirty and smelly,” Skuza said. “It was a crawl space so we couldn’t stand up.”

When it was over “we felt like we got hit by a house,” she said of the physical toll. But it was worth it. students who took part were happy to give their day and their muscle to their New Jersey neighbors.

Delaware campus Student Bar Association President Vijay Yellareddigari said he got more out of the trip than the people the students helped. The hurricane victims inspired him with their strength and resilience, and he praised the law school family for coming together with donations of food, supplies and time.

“This sense of family and community is what makes Widener the best institution to attend,” he said.

The Harrisburg campus also coordinated relief efforts. In just four days the campus Student Bar Association collected more than 170 items which went to a church in New York City. They also collected $100 in monetary gifts, which went to the American Red Cross.

“The generosity of the Harrisburg campus never ceases to amaze me,” Student Bar Association President Kristen Potter said.

Potter noted that two Harrisburg-campus students, Yasmine Naamo and Beau Huch, who are from New Jersey, have also traveled to the Garden State to help with relief efforts in person.