Teachers take pie in face to benefit hurricane victims


More than a dozen teachers at Harborside Middle School took a pie in the face Friday afternoon, all to send money to help hurricane victims.

Because the fundraiser brought in so much money, more than $2,550, three staff members also had their heads shaved.

The fund-raiser, organized by staff at Harborside Middle School, followed several weeks of intense and devastating hurricanes in Florida, Texas and other regions.

Students and staff have been bringing in donations and putting them in bins bearing the names of Harborside staff.

The top staff members, and some randomly picked from a list of names got a pie in the face on Friday. That included School Principal Steven Gottlieb and Assistant Principal Jamie Whitaker, as well as teacher Joseph Urban, who helped organize the fundraiser, and George Hunkele, a teacher credited with doing a lot of the legwork.

After about 18 teachers got pied by their chosen student, picked lottery-style from a collection of names, Gottlieb, Robert Hansen and Urban sat for the razor as their heads were shaved.

The shaving was an add on. The men volunteered to have their heads shaved if donations surpassed $2,250. “No one thought we’d get there,” said school social worker Katie Scheibel. “But as the days went on, this is happening.”

Gottlieb joked that he might have been a bit more reluctant to volunteer for the shaving if he knew the goal would be met, but he was happy it was.

He talked to the students before the event got underway, explaining that their efforts were “fantastic.”

“Years ago when Sandy hit, people helped us. Now we’re giving back,” he said.

The pies weren’t really pies, but rather whipped cream on a plate. Whittaker, who appeared to have sprinkles on her whipped cream, was proud despite the amount of cream she had to pull from her hair. “We are very proud of them,” she said.

The funds will be donated to the American Red Cross, earmarked for hurricane relief. Lucian Terranova from the Red Cross attended the event to thank the students for their hard work. He told them that it costs $20 to feed a person three meals a day, and therefore their more than $2,550 will go a long way in helping the storm victims

The students cheered and yelled as each pie was delivered.

Mayor Ben Blake did not get a pie in the face as planned. He said last week that he would take a pie in the face if the school raised $1,500. But the mayor said Friday afternoon that a busy schedule kept him from facing the pie toss. He does, however, hope to schedule a special pie-in-the-face for next week to make good on his promise.
“It was an innovative idea,” the mayor said, praising the school staff and students for their efforts to benefit storm victims.

While this fundraiser grabbed a lot of attention, School Spokeswoman Kathy Bonetti noted that most of the other schools in the city have also collected money for hurricane relief. And the schools will soon kick off their United Way campaign, she said, and money donated will be directed to the Red Cross as well as other non-profit groups.

(In the video, Assistant Principal Jamie Whitaker gets a pie in the face from a chosen student.)