Samantha Meadows called it a "phenomenal life-changing experience," a week-long trip to the Peruvian Amazon full of exciting adventures and charitable work.
Meadows, along with fellow Sachem East senior Michael Ferrara, was among about two dozen students from area school districts who visited Peru in February.
When Meadows, the president of the Sachem East Science Honor Society, returned from the trip, which included hiking the Amazon rain forest, pink dolphin watching and raising money to feed children in a local village, she wanted to stay in touch.
That's when she heard the news: massive flooding had "completely wiped out" all of the villages the students had visited, forcing 80,000 people to evacuate.
"They lost whatever little they had," Meadows said.
A brand new medical facility is completely underwater.
Meadows had already been raising money through the honor society to better the living conditions of the natives of the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Community Reserve. But now with the recent flooding, Meadows and fellow honor society members are stepping up their efforts.
A "Dining to Donate" event will be held at the Patchogue Applebee's on Sunrise Highway all day Tuesday "to help the peoples of the western Peruvian Amazon, to help rebuild their homes and give them hope to get back their lives," Meadows said.
Proceeds from the event, put on by the science honor society, (10 percent of each bill) will go to the non-profit Angels of the Amazon (print out the flyer to the right of this article and present it to your server to make sure your donation counts).
"With such a global community in modern society, it is astounding that such a catastrophe can fly under the radar," Meadows said of the flooding. "These people need help and every little bit helps."