This past week has been an amazing experience for all effected by this great storm Sandy. I personally have been through the cycle of fear, relief and finally gratitude. As the gratitude for not being personally effected emerged, so did the overwhelming feeling of concern for those who had lost so much. Whether it was my cousin and friends who lost homes, or my parents who no longer had heat, I wanted to do something to help. But the need seemed so vast. Where to begin?
I began by making a few phone calls and finding out where the need was the greatest close to home. The communities of Mastic-Shirley-Moriches have been devastated. Venerable waterfront communities have been left with fewer homes, no gas and a tremendous amount of need. Homeless, cold and freezing our neighbors are suffering. I found a local school teacher, Wendy Gross who along with her husband is working with the local shelters, churches and Red Cross to get help to those most in need. I then used email and social media to get the word out in the community that we needed help. And the help began rolling in -- a massive wave of assistance, love and compassion, the likes of which made Sandy look small.
Since Saturday, there has been an endless supply of food, clothing, blankets, flashlights, supplies. We had offers of trucks and cars and eventually took a caravan led by a Kolb HVAC truck to Shirley. The recipients of our donations were amazed, relieved and grateful. The folks of the North Fork are some of the most loving and giving people I have ever met. Yesterday, Don Young of Shelter Island delivered a trailer full of supplies donated by people of SI. The great folks at Ivy League florist worked into the night as we sorted through everything and they will put their van to use for delivery Wednesday. Fitness Advantage, Bonnie Jeans, the beautiful yogis of The Giving Room, Southold Mother's Club, The First Presbyterian Church ... the list goes on and on... within days we have come together to help.
A few words of advice on Giving these next few days and weeks. When collecting for food banks and shelters, please make sure you have spoken with the people running the centers before you collect - and especially before you deliver. The front line organizers are doing an amazing job in the most horrific circumstances. Their needs change literally minute by minute. As an example, we are NO LONGER collecting clothing or blankets. The only thing we need right now (and rather urgently) are NON PERISHABALE FOOD items.
Our next collection will be at The Giving Room Tuesday from 8 until noon.
If you would like to give directly - St. Jude's Church in Shirley is accepting monetary contributions and of course, there is The Red Cross. I was happy to see how helpful the Red Cross was in Shirley. They were going door to door delivery food rations.
I wish I could thank all the individuals who have given so much this past weekend. The experience has changed me and I am made a better person by being in the company of such wonderful friends and neighbors.