Dey ‘lights up Puerto Rico’ in honor of staff member

A native of Bayamon City in Puerto Rico, Bernice Ladikos returns to the island each summer to be with her family members who still live there: her mother, sister, uncles, nephews and nieces.

The John B. Dey Elementary cafeteria monitor’s family was not exempt from the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Maria in September. Ladikos said they are still in need of fresh drinking water and do not expect to have power until December.

“Many people are still in desperate need and they are in locations that are remote and hard to get to due to the washed out roads and bridges,” she said.

Wanting to support Ladikos and those affected by the hurricane in her homeland, Dey’s general assistant Kathy Morris enlisted the help of the school’s safety patrols, a group she supervises.

“Bernice is so dear to all of us here at school,” Morris said. “I thought this donation drive would be a perfect way for our students to showcase their responsibility and concern for others’ safety.”

The donation drive, which they are calling “JBD lights up Puerto Rico,” is to collect flashlights and batteries to give light to residents of Puerto Rico who are still living in darkness at night. Knowing Lynnhaven Dive Center was taking collections for Puerto Rico, Morris asked if the school’s donations could be added to its delivery.

Ladikos (center) with Dey safety patrols

“They were thrilled with the idea of our flashlight/battery drive,” said Morris. “We don’t have much time though, the next plane of supplies leaves Friday, Oct. 27. To make the drive more enticing, the class that brings in the most flashlights and batteries wins a pizza party sponsored by Shorebreak Pizza.”

Safety patrols are also doing their part to increase participation, according to Morris.

“This week our patrols started promoting the donation drive by creating wonderful posters and banners that are hanging in our halls, making classroom visits, as well as sharing morning news riddles related to our efforts,” she said.

The patrols are in the cafeteria each morning monitoring the submission of donations to boxes marked with teachers’ names. “Our classroom boxes are filling up fast!” said Morris.

The outpouring of support from the community, colleagues and students has moved Ladikos, whose heart is heavy with thoughts of her family and the destruction in Puerto Rico.

“Simply beautiful. There are no words to describe it,” she said. “My heart is so happy. Everyone is so nice here.”

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