After watching the news coverage of Superstorm Sandy that hammered the East Coast last month, the principal of Our Lady of Lourdes School in Washington knew he wanted to help.

“I wanted to do something, anything, and I wanted to involve our kids here at Lourdes,” said Rick Danzeisen, who joined OLL this year.

“But I didn’t know how to go about it until I found out that one of our staff members is the niece of Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York,” he said. “I asked her to call him and to see if there was a school or parish that needed help.”

Cardinal Dolan quickly responded and said Holy Rosary School and Parish on Staten Island, N.Y., had been hard hit. Although the school itself weathered the storm fairly well, about 20 families and one teacher lost everything.

Danzeisen then spoke to the pastor and principal of Holy Rosary who said they were in need of cash and gifts cards to help these families rebuild and start over.

“The pastor was thrilled and so grateful to hear we wanted to help. He just kept saying it was so wonderful of us,” Danzeisen said. “He also said the principal was overwhelmed and it was best to communicate with her through email which I did.”

As the staff at OLL began thinking of ways to raise money, Danzesien decided to expand the project to include all 12 schools in Region 8 of the St. Louis Archdiocese. These are the Catholic grade schools in and around Washington. He also contacted St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. The response from all of them was “yes, we want to help.”

The schools decided each would hold its own fundraisers or collections the week after Thanksgiving when students return from holiday break.

At OLL, the project has been named Steppin’ Up for Holy Rosary School. The goal is to raise at least $1,020, which represents the number of miles between OLL and Holy Rosary. A large map is now hanging at the school with a footprint that will move as the dollars come in.

“Every dollar raised will represent one mile in our journey to help the school,” said Danzeisen.

Special events planned at OLL include Hats on Tuesday, when students can contribute $1 to wear a crazy hat. And next Thursday, the Tropical Moose, a snow cone company in St. Louis, will sell its treats for $1.50 with 100 percent of the proceeds to benefit Holy Rosary.

Other schools in the area are planning special events as well.

St. Francis Borgia Grade School is sponsoring a “buy a brick” campaign next week. Students may purchase a brick by donating $2 to $5 (or more). Donations will be collected each morning in the gym, according to Keith Branson, principal.

Students making a donation will receive a giant cardboard brick to add to the “house” being constructed on the stage. Students may add their name to their brick.

“Hopefully this will give the students a visual example of how their donations are helping those in need,” Branson said.

St. John the Baptist-Gildehaus is holding a penny drive, and many of the other schools are holding similar collections.

Danzeisen said he will collect all of the money and gift cards to mail to the school.

“I can’t wait to see what’s raised and anything will be appreciated,” he said. “When we all work together we can make things happen.”

Holy Rosary is a Roman Catholic parish elementary school, serving preschool through eighth grade.