In the wake of superstorm Sandy's destruction, Cape Region residents have responded with an outpouring of goods for devastated communities along the New Jersey shore.
Ad hoc groups have cropped up in Lewes, Long Neck and Milton, gathering more good than organizers ever imagined.
"The amount of people who participated in the drive was unbelievable," said Michael Zabec, a Baywood resident and local radio talk show host.
Following superstorm Sandy's assault on the New Jersey coast, Zabec said he was preparing for his weekly home show when his wife, Dianna, came to him crying and asked him to do something for storm victims.
Together, the couple took to the airwaves and asked Cape Region listeners to donate items for storm victims, with drop-off locations at Baywood Greens and Country Club off Route 24 and Cannery Village Civic Association in Milton. An announcement at Mary Mother of Peace Church in Millsboro brought out even more response, Dianna said.
Donations of clothes, food, water and toiletries started pouring in, with lines of cars typically three blocks deep. At one point, the line of cars waiting to drop off goods went out seven blocks, she said.
"On Thursday, I got so nervous because the truck we had, we knew wouldn't hold everything," Dianna said.
A 36-foot-long truck loaned to them by i.g. Burton in Milford, a motor home and a few half-ton trucks did the trick as volunteers loaded them up and they headed to a Trenton, N.J., Salvation Army Nov. 9.
Not only was there a ton of items donated by the Sussex community, Dianna said, they were top-quality items.
"So much of what we shifted through to package was brand new with the tags still on a lot of the clothing," she said.
People donated children's snow suits and other new clothing; a local dentist gave cases of toothbrushes and toothpaste, and others put together boxfuls of toiletries, tools and other personal hygiene products.
The outpouring of donations and number of people who volunteered to help distribute the donated goods were overwhelming, Dianna said.
"There are people that worked side by side with me the whole time," she said. "Without them, it wouldn't be possible."
Zabec said the Salvation Army will distribute donations to people in the Toms River, N.J. area.
Lewes sends mountain of love
A mountain of love. That’s what Lewes resident Debi Fenimore called the four trucks of supplies donated at Lewes Fire Department.
“The volume of items collected was overwhelming, which shows the true nature of our community,” said Mayor Jim Ford.
Fenimore and a small crew of Lewes firefighters and volunteers dropped off the donations at Cape May County Airport Nov. 10.
“When we pulled in, the faces of the people there showed how overwhelmed with gratitude they were,” said Fenimore. “It was beautiful to see, but also sad to see how serious the problem is there.”
Fenimore said thousands of New Jersey and New York residents are still living in shelters. Items collected and donated are being distributed, but many hurdles remain for those who lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy.
Many others remain in their homes without power, Fenimore said, and elderly residents face risks from looters. Older residents also have problems getting to shelters, pharmacies or donation centers where they could receive much-needed food and water.
“The elderly are really paralyzed in their homes, because they don’t know what to do or how to get around,” Fenimore said. “It’s so bad, people are stealing shoes off others at the shelters.”
Fenimore worked with Lewes Fire Department and Ladies Auxiliary, among other community leaders, to organize a donation drive, which ended Nov. 9. Four trucks, which were also donated, made the trip to New Jersey to drop off supplies.
While in Cape May, Fenimore met donation coordinator Michelle Bush, who stressed the need for volunteers to sort all the donations coming in.
Bush said sorters are needed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bush said the donation center is in desperate need of hand-warming packets, laundry detergent, wet-dry mops, lip balm and new toys. The center is no longer accepting blankets or clothing.
“Just to give people an idea, we are sorting through 10 tons of clothing, so there is always something for volunteers to do,” Bush said. “Our main priority is to get it all sorted and get it out to the community.”
The airport donation center is about five miles from the Cape May ferry terminal, she said, so volunteers are advised to carpool to the center.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cape residents adopt a street
Suzannah Martin Frederick of Milford and Joan Tylecki Greeley of Lewes got a call from friends on Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy.
“They told us they could use some strong bodies and skilled workers,” said Greeley.
The two women are organizing a band of volunteers to travel to the Ocean Breeze neighborhood on Staten Island this weekend. All able bodies are welcome to join, Greeley said.
One of the families to be helped is Sam and Ronnie Forster’s family of 10, who Greeley and Frederick met through a mutual friend in Staten Island. The plan, said Greeley, is to help families on the Forster’s street.
“This could have so easily been coastal Sussex,” she said. “Basically we’re doing all we can for these folks.”
Tasks will include removing debris and damaged drywall, and possibly hanging new drywall.
“There are some older folks there who can’t do the hard labor themselves,” Greeley said.
Greeley plans to leave Saturday at 6 a.m., spend the day working, and return that evening. “Now our job is to fill the bus with people who know what they’re doing and who can bring their own tools,” she said.
Juan Saez donated the bus and driver, as well as gas. Arena’s Deli donated sandwiches for the Staten Island families and for the work crew. Ace Hardware, via Lisa Bartell, is donating gloves, masks and trash bags.
For more information, or to volunteer, contact Greeley at email@example.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/joan.greeley.
Pizza for the cause
Grotto Pizza will donate 50 percent of all revenues Monday, Nov. 26, to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, which was founded by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, first lady Mary Pat Christie.
“We were fortunate in Delaware to be spared the damage and destruction Hurricane Sandy caused in New Jersey and other states,” said Grotto founder Dominick Pulieri. “Just because we were lucky doesn’t mean back to business as usual. We have a responsibility to help our neighbors affected by this terrible storm.”
All Grotto Pizza locations in Delaware and Maryland will contribute to this fundraiser. Monetary donations will also be accepted.
Helping the children
Child’s Play by the Bay, a Lewes day-care center, is hosting a children’s donation drive. Items needed are diapers, wipes, bottles, cups, plates, utensils, Advil, soap, towels, cleaning supplies, antibacterial wipes, blankets, sheets, bedding, warm clothing, shoes, hats, pack-n-plays, high chairs, toys, games and books.
The items can be dropped off from 12 to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Child’s Play parking lot at 1510 Savannah Road, Lewes.
Firefighters collect food
The Delaware Volunteer Firefighter's Association will collect food items for hurricane victims from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 18, at all local volunteer fire departments.
“It has become obvious that food banks in New Jersey and New York are being stretched beyond the limit,” said DVFA President Charles Boyer. “We want to show our support of the people who are suffering in those areas by collecting canned goods and long shelf-life products that can be taken to their food banks as a relief effort from all Delawareans.”