Queens Lion's Club donates money to cover graduation fees for middle school students

Stacey Sager Image
Friday, May 5, 2023
Graduation fees paid by good Samaritan
A good Samaritan helped pay for the graduation fees for 8th graders in Queens.

OZONE PARK, Queens (WABC) -- A local Lion's Club in Queens stepped up to the plate to help donate money to middle school students who couldn't afford the school's graduation fees.

Neeta Bhasin could have just written a check and gone home on Friday, but she and her friend, Jasbir Bhatia, wanted to take it all in at a middle school in Ozone Park.

Middle schoolers at M.S. 137 are learning to think out of the box, and that is precisely what their principal did last week, when she realized about 20 of their students who are either living in shelters, or economically struggling, just couldn't afford the fees associated with their 8th grade graduation and prom.

"My sister works a lot every day, to get money for us," M.S. 137 8th grader Daisy Munguia said. "For my siblings, and she was really worried about my prom and everything."

"Last year, we did some fundraisers, we collected, but this year they're facing the economic challenges of having to come up with a down payment and rent, and just trying to figure out where to live," M.S. 137 Principal Pamela Trincado said.

The dues for a cap and gown, yearbook and graduation is $125. It's an additional $100 for prom.

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If you're wondering how these costs even came about, keep in mind, M.S. 137 is one of the largest middle schools in New York City, with nearly 700 students per grade.

That means roughly thousands of family members at graduation. So, in order to have enough room, they rented out space at St. John's University, which costs money.

The school principal, a member of the Local Lion's Club, figured she would reach out.

"I was actually emotional at the time, because we didn't expect it to come that fast, because it came within minutes of the post," said Sam Esposito of the Ozone Park Residents Association.

People like Bhasin, from East Meadow, gave the kids $2,600 on Friday, while her friend Bhatia, added another $500. But the best surprise came when Bhasin asked the kids what they want to be when they grow up.

"I really want to become a lawyer to help families," Munguia said.

It goes to show that strangers can bond, and that giving, so often, gets you even more.


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