OCTA supports students, essential workers

Pictured above, left to right: Carrie Patane, President of Oswego Classroom Teachers’ Association; Joy Bifera, EVS Manager for Oswego Health; Michelle McManus, Secretary of Oswego Classroom Teachers’ Association.

Partnership with Oswego Health focusing on those 'critical to keeping our students and community safe and functioning'

OSWEGO — Even with schools closed since March 13, educators in the Oswego City School District say they still felt the need to help the community.

A group of 425 members of OCTA (the Oswego Classroom Teachers Association), including teachers and teaching assistants, have been finding unique ways to give back to their students and those on the front lines during the mandated stay-at-home order.

OCTA is spearheading a "Business Spotlight of the Week" program to help support local community businesses still up and running during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order putting “New York on PAUSE.” By spotlighting these local businesses, OCTA officials say they’re encouraging all members and the community to patronize those business. OCTA is also gathering donations from members to purchase gift cards from highlighted businesses to support students or essential workers in the community.

“We have been surveying our members to get the names of businesses and essential workers who are critical to keeping our students and community safe and functioning,” said OCTA President Carrie Patane.

The movement’s first project was a push to put more books in the hands of Oswego City School District students. Working in collaboration with the Oswego Bookmobile and river’s end bookstore as the spotlighted business, members of OCTA used its own funds plus a healthy round of donations to purchase $1,050 worth of books from river’s end, one of downtown Oswego’s cornerstone shops. The books were then donated to and distributed by the famous Oswego Bookmobile. The Bookmobile is a mobile library that makes stops throughout Oswego, like the Oswego farmers market and Fort Ontario, particularly during summer months.

From there, OCTA’s focus grew to include “helping to keep us safe and who are on the front lines in the community,” said Patane. The group surveyed its members, and Oswego Health was unanimously selected to be the beneficiary of the next project. In particular, the Oswego Health Environmental Services Staff was spotlighted.

“The Environmental Services Staff were recognized because they are required to risk themselves to keep all our community members and health care providers safe,” said Patane, who also teaches English at Oswego high School. “OCTA is grateful for all they are doing for the families of our students and our loved ones.”

C's Farm Market was then selected next as the “Business Spotlight of the Week.” OCTA officials said the wholesale and retail purveyor of fresh produce, beverages and more was “very supportive” in assisting with meal distribution throughout the pandemic to students in the district.

OCTA raised a total of $930 from its members as part of the initiative, officials said, and identified 62 Environmental Services Employees throughout the Oswego Health healthcare system to receive gift cards to purchase products from C’s Farm Market.

To date, OCTA has donated roughly $6,000 to the community through the seven-week “Business Spotlight of the Week” program.

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