Determined to help others in their community, two high school students worked for more than a month to collect clothing for those in need.

Gabby Berrito and Natalie Bianco spearheaded a clothing drive that provided much-needed items for at least 26 families – about 130 people. The girls spent their free time gathering the items, sorting and keeping inventory organized. In all, they collected more than 50 bags of clothes. 

Locust Valley High School teacher Erica Caiati reached out to district families to see what was needed. She kept the names confidential, but gave Gabby and Natalie lists of what each family could use, so they could put the bags together. 

Both girls said it meant a lot to them to give back to their community, and their efforts made them feel accomplished. “It was a lot of work in the end, but I would do it again in a heartbeat after seeing the smiles we could put on people's faces,” said Natalie. “From this clothing drive, I’ve learned how important it is to come together to help others throughout your community, and how a little goes a long way.” 

Gabby said she felt a sense of responsibility to help those in need. “Giving back to our community is very important to us,” she said. “The effort we made to assist these families resulted in an immense impact.

Caiati and Assistant Principal Rebecca Gottesman helped the girls organize and distribute the items they collected. “The students that received clothing were incredibly grateful,” Caiati said. “I have never seen their eyes widen so much or seen such big smiles on their faces.” 

Gottesman said she was incredibly proud of Gabby and Natalie. “These are two special girls who care about others and put their feelings into action,” she said.