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Ridgefield responds to Rockaways

Local organization helps Sandy victims on Long Island.

A Sandy victim selects clothing at a center in the Rockaways Nov. 28. —Alley Maher photo

Ridgefield Responds is seeking community support for goods, volunteers and donations as they continue to help the people in New York who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy.

“Our first trip down to the Rockaways identified so many areas of need,” said Betsy Brand, a Ridgefield Respond’s steering committee member who made the journey. “Our intention was to visit several collection centers and work centers to find out where we could help. We ended up getting to only two, rolling up our sleeves and staying all day.”

Ridgefield Responds is a volunteer organization that was spearheaded by Selectman Di Masters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The group adopted Pass Christian, Mississippi, and through generous town donations and volunteer work, was able to help them get back on their feet.

After the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, Ridgefield Responds mobilized again to help those suffering in Jacmel, on the southern coast.

“Much of the area in the Rockaways that we have identified is still in great need,” said Ms. Brand. “Their infrastructure is still compromised, some have no heat, water or electricity. Many have no transportation. Stores are still closed.

“One little boy at the center told us he was staying with his grandfather and they had a portable generator. Another woman was scouting for goods for families trapped home with their special needs children. These families need everything.”

With Christmas fast approaching, Ridgefield Responds will direct immediate efforts towards collection of goods and toys, volunteering at the center in Rockaway, raising funds and enlisting volunteers for the ongoing effort. Volunteers are needed for working trips, as well as for in-town jobs of collecting and organizing. Future trips supporting Habitat For Humanity projects are also in the works.

To offer help, visit ridgefieldresponds.org. or email at: info@ridgefieldresponds.org.   Contributions can be made online or to: Ridgefield Responds-Sandy, Treasurer, Town Hall, 400 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.

Collection points for new and very gently used, clean items are set up at Ridgefield Community Center at 316 Main Street, Ridgefield Recreation Center at 195 Danbury Road, William Pitt Sotheby’s office at 470 Main Street, Georgetown Auto Body, 27R Catoonah Street and at the Children’s Corner locations.

The people need everything from cleaning supplies, water (for drinking and washing), new underwear and socks, non-perishable food items to baby clothes, food and formula, children’s clothes, coats and more. For a complete list check out the Ridgefield Responds website.

Di Masters is in the process  of organizing a townwide drive, but in the interim a caravan will depart on Tuesday, Dec. 11 and Tuesday Dec. 18. Both donations and volunteers are needed.

“Ridgefielders are such generous people,” says Ms. Masters. “I know they will open their hearts again as they have done so often in the past.”

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