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Bracelets cheered rescuers



Published: Sat, November 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The idea was generated by the mothers of two fifth-graders.

By MARY SMITH

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

McDONALD-- A fire still burns where the World Trade Center towers stood in New York City, but the pupils of Roosevelt Elementary School have lighted a different kind of flame of caring.

The 415 children spent a full week just days after the Sept. 11 attacks making red, white and blue bracelets to send to the search and rescue workers.

It was their way of trying to help, and their effort is being rewarded.

Letters of gratitude are coming in.

Mary Kay Scufka, secretary at Roosevelt, said the children have received about eight thank-you letters, some of which she has been able to copy.

The letters were sent to the school, addressed directly to the child whose name appeared on the back of a tag placed on each bracelet.

The tags bore "Roosevelt Elementary School, McDonald" on the front, with the first name and last initial of the pupil who made the bracelet on the back.

The bracelet project was an idea of Bonnie Nagi and her friend, Candy Rusinowski, whose sons are fifth-graders at Roosevelt.

How this began: Nagy said both boys had a desire to do something in the days immediately after the attack, and the mothers figured other children must be feeling the same way.

By the next Monday, the two mothers and 10 other parents were in classrooms helping pupils make the red, white and blue braided bracelets out of yarn or embroidery thread.

They finished by Sept. 21.

The original intent was to send the bracelets to pupils at the public school very near the trade towers through the American Red Cross, but they wound up at ground zero for workers. Some also were sent to Independence School, P.S. 234.

The first thank you arrived Oct. 9, in the form of a phone call from two NYC police officers to a surprised Scufka.

In what she described as a thick New York City accent, one officer told her: "You just can't believe what this means to us."

Since then, letters have come from that officer and others.

Tags for pupils: The caller was Lt. Michael Pappas, commander of New York's anti-gang unit, who sent letters to two pupils whose bracelets he received -- a fourth-grader and a second-grader. He enclosed 30 small plastic tags for each of their classmates.

The tags are used to hook together two zippers on a backpack to make it harder for someone to unzip the bags and steal something.

Another NYPD officer, John Zerafka of the 44th Precinct in the Bronx, sent a thank-you note to a kindergartner and a first-grader and also sent them two official police department uniform patches.

Volunteer workers from outside New York benefited from the children's gift as well.

Sgt. Brian McMasters of District 18 of the Boston Police Department sent a thank-you letter to the two mothers who initiated the bracelet project.

McMasters said in his letter he went in to get a bite to eat at the Red Cross center at ground zero and found the box of bracelets. He said he had been working 12-hour shifts. Finding the bracelets brightened his night.

McMasters said he and other workers found the bracelets at 1 a.m., and for those at ground zero who took one, the entire mood improved dramatically.

Other letters came from a Providence, R.I., nurse, a Red Cross nurse from California and a masseuse, who was working to relieve the muscles aches of exhausted rescuers.

A postcard from P.S 234, with a photo of the school on the front, is now posted on a hallway bulletin board at Roosevelt.

It reads: Thank you for the kind wishes, support and wonderful friendship bracelets. It is signed:

Students and Families P.S. 234.




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