November 6, 2012

Oh...my...GOODNESS!

I wasn't going to post tonight. I am focused on the election, eating all the food in my house (I'm a stress-eater), and wrangling my four-year-old.

But I wanted to share some information about Superstorm Sandy relief efforts.

If we're friends on Facebook, you probably know I was trying to do my own little part to help the people of New Jersey. It's my home. The lives of some of my friends have been completely altered by this storm. Homes have been destroyed. People have lost everything (except, thank goodness, each other).

I started collecting addresses to send care packages to children affected by the storm. My list grew quickly.

I also collected some clothes, and directed people to send items to a friend on mine in my hometown. 

Another friend made a request for boys' clothes of specific sizes; I asked on Facebook on her behalf, and within minutes there were boxes on their way to her door.

People are really amazing sometimes, aren't they? 

This was all done via Facebook. Amazing that a tool so many of us use for fun can also be used to aid each other.

Tonight I'd like to share some data, some stories, and some other ways you can help.

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So...data first.

I collected addresses for children in over 30 families. I found "sponsors" for over 15 of those families; they'll get care packages from strangers, which is sort of cool. In one case, a teacher at a school in Colorado (she's a cousin of mine) has her students collecting goods of all shapes and sizes to send to two of the families on my list. The intent is for the families to share with their neighbors.

I have no doubt they will. 

I received three large boxes of clothes to send to my friend in my hometown. I also directed at least three other people to send her more items.

I received funding that paid for care packages for the 15 or so "unsponsored" families. The funding came from amazing people who I didn't solicit. They just wanted to do their part as well, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Every dollar I received has been spent on the families who I promised to help. 

Today, I carried all my care packages and my three large boxes to a small, private (i.e. not FedEx or UPS) shipping place. Turns out, the owner is from Jersey, too. I told him about my project, he set me up packing all my little care packages, and...well...he donated all the packing supplies and part of the shipping costs. 

Wow. I'll admit...I teared up a little.

I surely didn't ask him to do it. I didn't expect it. He just did it. And since shipping is more expensive than I anticipated, that...helped. So much.

He doesn't have a web site that I can find, but it's Qwik Pack & Ship on Daniel Island. If you don't know Tom, the owner, you really should. 

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So. Who are we helping?

A family of five who had to evacuate their house in the middle of the storm when the Raritan River breached its banks in a most violent way. The house now been condemned, and they're trying to salvage what little they can.

Parents of a friend of mine from high school. Their house? Also destroyed by the angry river. I remember hanging out at their house back in high school, and now it's gone.

An older couple, the parents of a doctor who helped save my friend's baby's life last January, who lived down the shore, as we Jersey people like to say. The storm surge washed an entire beach club building into their home, whisking the mother into the bay; the father saved her. I can't imagine how. Morning found them barricaded into a room in their house, floating on a couch in floodwaters. They were freezing, petrified, but they were alive. Now, they are homeless.

As the days go by, the stories continue. I can't believe this happened in my own back yard.

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I'll continue to share info as I get it, either here or on Facebook. For now, if you have items you'd like to ship to some of the damaged areas, send me an email and I will get you an address of a trusted distributor. They'd also appreciate gift cards to places like WalMart and Target, as well as cleaning supplies, food, blankets, towels...anything you can spare.

If you'd like to make a monetary donation, the American Red Cross is on the ground and is doing great work, as always. Additionally, the mayor of my hometown has set up a private relief fund. You can mail checks to:

Sayreville Storm Relief Fund
167 Main Street
Sayreville, NJ 08872

Honestly, I can't believe I've typed these words. Sayreville, my home for 23 years, needs relief. 

It's unbelievable.

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Still, though. I'm heartened by the generosity I witnessed in my little week-long project. I want to do more. Please let me help you do more, too.

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