All week, Metro has been highlighting selections of the city’s best — from dining spots to nightlife destinations — of 2012. Today we honor the year’s best, brightest New Yorkers.
Winner: New Yorkers
This year, the Local Hero winner is all of the New Yorkers who helped their fellow city residents after Hurricane Sandy. From emergency responders to people carrying water up flights of stairs for stranded elderly people, many stepped up to help after Sandy slammed into the city. The resilience of the city shined bright when people came together to help one another in every way possible. New Yorkers raised money and donated food, clothes and other supplies. They opened up their homes to host those without power. Those lucky enough to have power — both businesses and individuals — set up outlets for people to charge their electronic devices. In a time of need, New Yorkers really stepped up to help their neighbors and set a great example for the world.
When superstorm Sandy hit New York in late October, many people immediately sprung to the opportunity to donate supplies for victims. Joy Huang and Kimberley Berdy thought ahead to the holiday season and the number of children that had lost all their toys.
The two friends created Secret Sandy, a website that matches children who lost toys in the storm with a secret Santa.
The project has garnered national attention, even getting a tweet of support from Chelsea Clinton.
“Somebody is getting their Legos back,” Huang said. “Somebody is getting their scooter back.”
Huang said she hopes to continue the project after the holiday season by collecting supplies for schools that were damaged by Sandy.
P.S. 22 Chorus
The chorus for Public School 22 in Staten Island won the hearts of many with YouTube videos of fifth graders belting out songs such as “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
The school’s music teacher, Gregg Breinberg, created the chorus in 2000. Since then, the elementary school students have gone on to appear on “Good Morning America,” sing with Katy Perry, and take the stage at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.
Now they’ve been invited to the biggest stage of all: the presidential inauguration in January. The children need to raise money to fund the trip. To help send these kids to Washington, visit www.fundforpublicschools.org/support-ps22-chorus.
Nurses who helped evacuate NYU Langone Medical Center
The night of superstorm Sandy, most of Lower Manhattan lost power. To make the ordeal worse, backup generators at NYU Langone Medical Center failed. That’s when nurses successfully transported 20 babies, some born just hours before, down nine flights of stairs in the dark, while monitoring them and manually pumping them with air. At least six workers were needed to take each infant out of the hospital.
In addition to the babies, approximately 300 other patients were evacuated from the hospital.
NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo
Officer Larry DePrimo’s act of kindness went beyond the call of duty.
In late November, a photo of DePrimo offering boots and socks to a homeless man in Midtown Manhattan went viral. Jennifer Foster, a tourist visiting New York City from Arizona, snapped the image.
The photo was posted on the department’s Facebook page and received hundreds of thousands of “likes.”
“Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him,” Foster told cops.
“The officer said, ‘I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let me put them on and take care of you.'”
Charles Sonder, aka ‘Snackman’
There are ordinary New Yorkers doing extraordinary things every day. One story that caught the attention of many was that of Charles Sonder, better known as “Snackman.”
Sonder was caught on video breaking up a fight on the subway, while snacking on Pringles chips and Gummi-Bears.
The video, which was posted to YouTube on April 2, shows fists and kicks flying and Sonder stepping in to save the day. His nonchalant demeanor and how he never put down the chips awarded Sonder superhero status.
Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant