Ridgefielders help Sandy victims

Ridgefield Responds and Share Joy are both collecting supplies.

Collette Zahra has been making car trips to New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., bringing a wide range of goods she has collected to help Sandy victims.

With victims of Hurricane Sandy still recovering in areas harder hit than Ridgefield, where entire neighborhoods were destroyed and people were killed, some local folks are helping people in Newark, the Rockaways, and Staten Island.

The efforts include individuals as well as groups, such as the organization that was formed to help victims of Katrina seven years ago.

“I, honestly, when I kept watching the news, it was like my heart started melting,” said Collette Zahra, who has been driving carloads of goods directly to the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J.

She chose to collect, raise, and distribute the goods directly, in part because of a skepticism about whether large nonprofit agencies get enough bang for the buck.

“Everybody was saying donate to the American Red Cross,” she said. “I think a bigger action needs to happen where I could just physically drive these things down there and it will get to these people quicker.

She points to a recent report that the Red Cross spent $181,000 to put volunteers in a posh Manhattan Hotel for $310 a night as evidence that there is too much overhead for her to be satisfied making a donation.

Instead of writing a check, she drove a packed car full of diapers, coats, clothes, cleaning supplies down to a church in Newark and helped deliver them.

“I was supposed to call them 10, 15 minutes before I arrived just because of security,” Ms. Zahra said. “There were already people coming off the streets, they saw my car… At 8:30 in the morning these people were already lining up to get stuff.”

“We volunteered so we had to wait for two big 18 wheelers… delivering the apple sauce that Amazon donated. We helped take that off.”

Inside the church, Ms. Zahra worked in the back room, organizing and sending out items when people in the front told her what was needed.

“It absolutely definitely did feel good” seeing items she’d brought go out to people in need, Ms. Zahra said.

Ms. Zahra will be setting up a U-Haul truck at East Ridge Middle school Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10:30 to 12:30 for donations to make another trip.

The church is looking for coats and outerwear, like scarves, hats and gloves — but not clothing like pants and shirts. It’s also seeking baby products like diapers; feminine products; general hygiene products; cleaning supplies; canned foods; heavy duty garbage bags; one-gallon Ziploc bags.

“They’ll put a wash cloth they’ll put tooth brushes in there and give it to a family.”

They also need batteries, flashlights, shovels to dig out cars and things that are buried, Ms. Zahra said.

“Pet food was a big one.”

Ridgefield Responds

A relief effort that started in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Ridgefield Responds is collecting outer wear for Sandy victims in Rockaway, Queens in New York City.

“We are quickly putting together a collection of hats, mittens, gloves and coats as part of a relief effort” for the Rockaways, said Betsy Brand of Ridgefield Responds.

The group  has set up drop-off locations at William Pitt Southeby’s at 470 Main Street, the First Congregational Church and the Community Center through Wednesday, Nov. 28.

For more information visit RidgefieldResponds.org. Ridgefield Responds is also on Twitter and Facebook and will have updates on their Sandy relief efforts.

Share Joy International

Ridgefield-based non-profit Share Joy International has teamed up with many volunteers to collect needed items for Staten Island Sandy victims.

It will be campaigning outside stores with flyers tailored to what they need that the stores actually sell.

  • On Tuesday, Nov. 20, and today, Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 10 to 4, members  collected personal care items outside CVS and Walgreens.
  • At the same time, they planned to collect cleaning supplies and food items outside Stop & Shop.
  • A drop-off day today Saturday, Nov. 24, will be from 10 to 4, at one of the Schlumberger garages off Old Quarry Road. Visit facebook.com/pages/Share-Joy-International/ for updates.
  • Volunteers from town will bring the collected items to Tunnel of Towers and Staten Island University Hospital and helping with distribution Saturday, Dec. 1.

“We welcome all tax-deductible donations that can be made on line at www.sharejoyinternational.org via PayPal, or gift cards to stores such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.,” said Jonathan Chase of Share Joy International. “These donations will go directly to those most affected by the storm, via the organizations we have vetted and are working with.”

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