A Community Makes A Difference – Follow Up

Earlier this week I wrote a post about helping victims of Hurricane Sandy by collecting donations down here in PA.  At the time I titled the post “One Person CAN Make a Difference” – with the intention being to show that any individual can do some very good things for others with relatively little initial effort.  Yes, one person can make a difference, but a community can make an impact.


What started as a call from a member of the FDNY to a college friend became a huge grassroots drive spanning 4 states and involving dozens of people to help thousands.  In just the few days I collected donations, it went from a few bags in my living room, to filling a 2-car garage.  So many people came by, I wasn’t able to thank everyone, but I do want to relate just a few stories to give you an idea of the generosity I saw

  • The person who had been out of work for over a year and couldn’t give money, but had “stuff” that others could use
  • The elderly couple whose children had grown and so didn’t have any children’s items to donate, so they went out and bought several boxes of diapers and wipes
  • The person who donated a heavy, warm leather coat – with a note in the pocket that said in part “I loved this coat – I hope it keeps you warm in these troubled times”
  • My wife’s co-worker, who sat down with her young daughter and made about 2 dozen personal care packages (toothbrush, wash cloth, etc)

So on Tuesday morning (after voting), my next-door neighbor and I loaded up a 17 foot truck and headed up to Brooklyn, where we would drop-off our collected donations at a designated site (a Knights of Columbus hall).

The scene at the hall was one of organized chaos.  We arrived shortly after another truck had pulled out after dropping off their load of donations.  In the hall several members of one family (relatives of the FDNY firefighter who had first made the call) along with my sister, were trying to organize all the donations into general piles – coats, blankets, men’s clothing, women’s clothing, baby needs, etc.  As quickly as we unloaded we saw people coming in who needed things – a grandmother came in looking for diapers and baby clothes, someone else came in needing shoes and a coat.  Meanwhile calls were coming in as well – from NYPD, FDNY, and others with specific needs for families they were helping or rescuing (one call was for a family – they needed clothes for a 7-yr old boy, a 10 year old girl, and for their parents).

Two hours after we pulled up, we were on our way back to PA with an empty truck.   As fulfilling as it was to be able to collect so much for those who needed it, being able to see it being distributed almost immediately really put it unto focus.  Most people don’t get to see the impact their donations have on others.  If people did, I am sure the response would be even greater.

For those who want to help with this effort, to see what is currently needed you can go here http://596acres.org/en/news/rockaway-current-needs/

And for those who wish to make a monetary donation, you can go here http://www.ccdsd.org/donate/secure-online-donations/

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