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Keith Valley Hosts 'Blackout' for Sandy Victims

Keith Valley Middle School students and faculty donned black on Wednesday in tribute to the widespread power outages and ongoing struggles for Hurricane Sandy victims in New York.

Never has it been cooler to wear black. And Brenna Reilley went all out in her head-to-toe black hair accessories, shirt, pants and even football player markings under her eyes.

"Me and my friend, we both wanted to dress up," said Brenna, a Keith Valley Middle School eighth-grader.

Dressing all in black, had a purpose beyond, well, dressing all in black, according to Assistant Principal Sarah Stout. The intent of "Blackout Wednesday" was to fundraise for Hurricane Sandy victims in New York.

A Keith Valley art teacher designed the black-and-white "Hatters Help" T-shirts that faculty and a few students bought and wore on Wednesday. At $10 per shirt and close to 400 sold, Stout estimated that the school raised close to $4,000 - minus costs - for storm-struck victims.

Stout said the spirit day of sorts netted one of the highest percentages of participation. 

"It's the tangibleness of it," Stout said. "Most people know someone directly connected."

Like Keith Valley seventh-grade language arts teacher Nancy Sicilia, a Long Island native, who said some of her friends from high school lost homes and businesses from Hurricane Sandy. Sicilia, along with colleague Christine Jenkins, organized a collection drive over the past few weeks that yielded six caravans of food, water, diapers, dog food and more which teachers transported recently to hard-hit regions.

Within 24 hours of beginning the collection drive, Sicilia said the school had two cars packed with supplies and more donations followed. 

"It was heartbreaking to see the people coming in and telling you stories," Jenkins said, adding that she witnessed so many groups and individuals coming out to support those in need. "It did restore your faith in what's possible."

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