To the editor:
I have learned two very important things — the resiliency and the generosity of the human spirit. I called upon neighbors, friends and acquaintances and, ultimately, strangers, to help me collect supplies to distribute to hurricane victims in my hometown of Long Island, N.Y. The response was overwhelming, from those who jumped immediately to my aid, to strangers who came to my door after some unexpected publicity from The Daily News. Special thanks to Sharon Pacenka, who kept me sane, sorted and organized while we were inundated with donations, calls and emails.
As I sit down to type this, I have only just returned from Long Island (Nov. 12). My husband Paul and I made the trip and arrived with our donations at the Oceanside High School early Sunday afternoon. Oceanside is a beachfront community on Long Island where thousands of people still are without power and people still have standing water in their homes . The community held a rally on Friday morning to try to draw attention to the slow response of Long Island Power to return electricity to the area. Hundreds of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey remain without power today.
The high school in Oceanside (powered by a generator) is being used as a warming spot, a charging station, a place to get a hot meal, a location to connect with FEMA representatives and a place to acquire needed supplies. When we arrived, besides a few canned goods, some diapers and wipes, all that was there was clothing, in huge piles, semi-sorted and not labeled.
Once residents saw we were unloading donations from the van, we were inundated with requests for supplies. I gave flashlights and batteries who a woman who told me her she and her husband sleep in shifts because her neighborhood, still without power, is subject to looters every night after dark, and gave lighters to a family who still had candles but were out of lighters and matches to light them and had been for days. Paul helped a woman find dog food whose German shepherds hadn’t eaten in five days. I helped a woman find diapers for her toddler who had been wearing diapers two sizes too small since Tuesday! I even used my rudimentary Spanish to help a non-English speaking family find adult diapers.