After the Storm – FHC Student Inspires School and Community to Help Hurricane Victims

Posted on 10/03/2017
Issy Schwartz with donation boxes intended for hurricane victims

In the wake of tragedy, when the waves subside, what is revealed is often inspiring. Tragedies like the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico can reveal the good in communities as they work to recover. People rally together for a common goal, to help those in need. All it takes is someone to step up and lead. Isabel “Issy” Schwartz was the most recent FHSD student to inspire others in her community to help those victims. And when she took her donations to the post office, she found out just how great this community really is.

In early September, Schwartz, a senior at Francis Howell Central High School, approached French teacher Amy Roznos and Spanish teacher Caitlin Crain to see how students could help hurricane victims. “It broke my heart to see all the destruction and the suffering caused by the hurricanes,” Schwartz said, “and sitting by and just watching it happen didn’t feel right. I really wanted to help the people whose lives had just been flipped upside down and those who had lost everything. It really put it in perspective when I put myself in their shoes and imagined what they were going through, how horrible it would be to see everything you knew washed away.”

On her own, Schwartz contacted the United Way, compiled a list of helpful donations for the hurricane victims, and organized a supply drive at FHC. Schwartz and her fellow students decorated and filled several boxes to send to the victims, and wrote some heartfelt letters of encouragement, as well. Knowing she wasn’t alone in her desire to help made it that much more fulfilling. “It made me really proud to be a part of the FHC family,” Schwartz said, “seeing how many people cared just as much as I did. The amount of supplies we were able to send was way above and beyond what I had imagined, especially after only four days.”

Schwartz may be impressed with her community, but Roznos is extremely impressed with Schwartz. “Issy is an amazing student and a super-caring person,” Roznos said. “I was really impressed by her initiative and drive to reach out to the hurricane victims. She was ready to pay the whole postal fee herself which proves her compassion for others.” That takes us to the next part of this uplifting story.

Donations made by FHC students for hurricane victimsSchwartz and another FHC International Club member, Julie Nelgner, took the donations to the post office on Mexico Road in St. Peters. While the postal worker was weighing the boxes for shipping, the other patrons began to inquire about where all the boxes were going. One woman gave $5 to help with the shipping, and another patron gave $20. When the postal worker told the students the shipping total was $379.73, two more people stepped up to pay the rest. One person paid $254.73! These Good Samaritans did not want to be identified, and only wanted to help with a worthy cause.

Those people in the post office rekindled my entire belief in the goodness of people,” Schwartz said. “It was unbelievable that these complete strangers were willing to do so much to help me and those affected by the hurricanes. They all told me how much they wanted to help, and how amazing they thought what we did was. When the lady offered to put $100 on her own card, it made me tear up and I couldn’t stop telling her how amazing she was. But when the man put the rest of the fee on his own card, I went into total shock – I didn’t know what to say. My mind froze … as if I couldn’t comprehend what was happening.  I just started crying ... it was the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me. It was a life-changing, completely humbling experience.”

In an attempt to help a few people, Issy Schwartz learned something. “I love being a part of our community,” she said. “I’m so proud to be a part of it. Watching all these people come together to support those less fortunate was heartwarming. Everything that happened throughout this entire experience made me a better person, and in all honesty changed my outlook on life. I believe that I’m genuinely happier and it really goes to show that your actions can change someone’s life.”

“Not only is Issy an amazing student,” Crain said, “she has proved herself to be an irreplaceable member of society through her hard work on this incredible project. I know her peers, FHC faculty, and our community members are proud to know that she is making a difference and will inspire them to do the same. I know she has inspired me.”

Schwartz sought to inspire her community, and as it turned out, her community inspired her. And when the waves subside, we see what is inspiring once again – how it is the people of the FHSD community that make it great.

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