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The Suburbanite
  • Teddy bear project helps hurricane victims cope with losing everything

  • Green resident Josh Miller knows the pain of losing everything in a hurricane. Now he is giving to others who have felt the same loss.

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  • Green resident Josh Miller knows the pain of losing everything in a hurricane. Now he is giving to others who have felt the same loss.
    Josh, a junior at Walsh Jesuit High School, was 8 in 2005 when his family, in the process of moving from Massachusetts to Florida, lost everything. When the moving truck flipped over during the high winds of Hurricane Wilma, the family found their possessions scattered along Interstate 95.  
    “We lost everything,” said Josh’s mom, Julie (Saullo) Miller. “We still don’t have things, we lost every piece of furniture and everything we owned.”
    What wasn’t damaged by the accident was ruined in the rain.
    The only thing salvaged was a teddy bear, Teddy, who belonged to Josh’s uncle who died in a car accident when Josh was younger. Teddy is very important to the family.
    “When I was younger, it was something that got me through the hurricanes,” he said.
    That bear is what gave Josh the idea to help those who lost everything in Hurricane Sandy.
    Josh was selected to go on a trip to Italy in 2013. He was selected because of his excellent grades through three years of Latin classes at Walsh.
    Julie said a few weeks ago Josh stepped out the door of his home to ask neighbors, friends and relatives to sponsor him on the trip.
    He returned with teddy bears.
    Josh realized how expensive the trip to Italy would be and the money could go to better use, so instead of collecting the money for his trip, he collected new teddy bears for the kids that lost their stuffed friends during Hurricane Sandy.
    Josh collected 185 bears of all kinds to send to New Jersey. Julie called the governor’s office in New Jersey and they were directed to Jackie Oleary, founder of Operation Jersey Shore Santa.
    “We have had so many displaced families. We couldn’t bear the thought of kids being without a Christmas,” Oleary said. “We wanted to ease the parents’ minds that their kids will not be going without a Christmas.
    “Josh is a really good example of what we have seen children do because they want to help. Kids like Josh really touch our hearts so much. Nowadays, a lot of kids don’t care, they just want what they want. He is someone I would want my son to look up to. He is definitely a good role model for this generation. We are in awe of what some of these kids have done.”
    Operation Jersey Shore Santa is helping 750 children, and the numbers continue to grow.  
    Josh continues to try to raise funds for the Italy trip. He began raking leaves but came down with mono and had to stop. He and his mom have been selling items on eBay to add to the trip funds, and Josh is out to shovel snow and do whatever he can to raise the money. He will continue to look for sponsors.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We are doing what we can, but we need to have everything in by Valentine’s Day,” Julie said. “I think this would be a great experience for him. I am so proud to have a son that thinks of others before himself and is willing to give to others. He has always been like that.”
    Josh plans to attend college and become either a math teacher or a physical therapist. He played baseball his freshman year and has been on the varsity bowling team for three years.
    To help Josh to get to Italy or hire him for snow shoveling, email cmostyn24@aol.com.