After Miller Place lost two more students last summer to drug overdoses, members of the Miller Place Teachers Association said it was time to take their community back.
“Many [people] in our area have felt helpless as a result of the growing drug problem in our community,” Nancy Sanders, president of the Miller Place Teachers Association, said in an email.
In light of recent events, the teachers association sponsored a 5K walk fundraiser to promote drug awareness in the community. The walk began at noon on Sunday at the Miller Place High School track. According to Sanders, the association raised over $14,000. All proceeds went to Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson and a family who lost their son to a heroin overdose just before school started this year. The family wished to remain anonymous. Sanders added that Hope House has helped many students in the Miller Place school district.
Father Francis Pizzarelli from Hope House spoke at the event, alongside several former Miller Place students who are recovering addicts. Pizzarelli was impressed with the event and commended the teachers for their effort.
“Finally after more than 25 years of ranting and raving about the serious drug problem we have … finally someone’s listening,” Pizzarelli said.
He added that other school districts should use the teachers association effort as an example.
“Until we educate parents with signs and symptoms and until we really yell and scream, this problem is going to continue to senselessly take lives,” Pizzarelli added.
The idea for the fundraiser came about during a Miller Place Teachers Association meeting. The fundraiser’s theme #BeSmartDONTStart was supposed to encourage Miller Place students to make the right choices “and to know that they have a tremendous support system that they can count on to always be there for them,” Sanders said.
BJ’s, Stop&Shop, Utz, Party Hardy and That Meatball Place are some of many businesses that donated goods to sell at the fundraiser. Additional stores and restaurants also donated goods for the raffle baskets. The association also received more than 300 shirts from Port Jeff Sports to sell at the event.
“This has been a true school and community effort,” Sanders said. “We would not have been able to pull off an event of this magnitude without all the support we received.”