It takes a special kind of human being to educate and guide children. We recently had the pleasure of collaborating with Debby Hartz, a guidance counselor at I.S. 93 in Ridgewood, a school for sixth through eighth grade in Queens, NY.
Mrs. Hartz has spent years facilitating community service activities and fundraising events for the students in her school. She has spent her time and effort searching for pursuits that would energize and inspire them.
Initially, the children were excited about the Adopt-a-Soldier program. This personalized experience gave them insight into what it means to be a soldier. They were able to bake cookies for the soldiers and provide for their specific, individual needs in many small ways. Frequently, however, the soldiers didn’t require anything for themselves. Instead, the children were often asked to send care packages that included items like toys for the disadvantaged children in the remote cities where the soldiers lived. What an eye-opening, soul-filling experience Debby’s schoolchildren must have had!
As the Adopt-a-Soldier program changed, Debby needed to find a new avenue to keep the children engaged. She discovered the Gary Sinise Foundation, which has many programs to support defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families. One of these programs includes identifying the needs of severely wounded veterans and building them a home tailored to these needs. Donors have an opportunity to buy a customizable brick that is placed at the base of the American flagpole. Debby’s fundraising efforts with the children were re-energized, and they have been participating in this honorable program.
Yet another young man was inspired by Mrs. Hartz. Lifelong family friend Tyler Loft is the co-owner and coach of the Yetis, a traveling baseball team based in Suffolk County. He was looking for a fundraising opportunity for his athletes and came to Debby for advice. At the time, Debby noticed that PatrioticMe was offering a limited-edition design honoring the 20th Anniversary of the Twin Towers attacks on 9/11. She had previously purchased a t-shirt from PatrioticMe and was impressed with its message and the quality of the clothing.
A partnership was brewing!
Debby reached out to PatrioticMe, and the rest is history. LeeAnn, our owner, proudly sponsored a donation for each shirt sold by the Yetis. Many shirts were purchased with Tyler and Debby’s support, and the profits were donated to the Gary Sinise Foundation.
As a beautiful conclusion to our story, the Gary Sinise Foundation is further inspired to bring philanthropy into our schools. In fact, because of Debby’s efforts, they are working on a pilot program with her school. We look forward to hearing more about how this turns out.
Please join us in honoring Debby Hartz!
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