A Post-Hurricane Sandy Donation: Finding a Way to Help

So many of us are counting down the days to the holidays. Decking the halls, hunting for gifts and choosing pictures for cards.

But East of us, they are still picking up the pieces.  Still leveling homes, still looking for warm places to stay, still gathering the food needed for families to feel ‘normal’ again.  I still feel a tightening in my chest every time I see the pictures and the video from the wreckage left by Hurricane Sandy.  My heart still warms with every offer of help I hear, and with every outstretched hand I see offered.  Food and items were gathered from the four corners of the country and shipped in.  I wrote about the efforts, knowing some people wanted to help, but weren’t sure just how. When you are miles away, it is easy to feel helpless.

I have kept in close contact with many friends in New York and New Jersey. While Sandy may not be the lead story in the news each night anymore, the need is still there.  And I know every little bit you and I do even now, helps.

I have worked with Kellogg’s for this past year and was proud to see them step up as one of the first companies to donate.  They committed $500,000 to the Red Cross and Feeding America on October 30th.  Clearly, I don’t have the capacity to give in that manner, but I can take baby steps.  While working with Kellogg’s a few months ago, they offered me a year’s supply of cereal to give away here on the site.  After Hurricane Sandy hit, I requested to donate those boxes instead and wondered if there was anything additional they might be able to contribute.

On my behalf, Kellogg’s doubled the donation to a 2 year’s supply of cereal. Rather than just picking a food bank and shipping them, I wanted to make sure these boxes were going where they were needed.  Knowing my friend Dawn Sandomeno’s home city of Belmar, New Jersey, was hit extremely hard, I started with her.  After a few weeks and a series of phone calls, today, I spoke with MaryAnn LaGuardia, the head of the PTO at Lavallette Elementary School in Tom’s River, New Jersey.  While juggling the loss and leveling of her own home, MaryAnn has been handling the many donations that have come their way. Despite the chaos she must be experiencing, she was happy to accept the donation on behalf of her students.

Screenshot from Lavallette Elementary's Website

From Lavallette’s website:

Words could never express how kind and generous people have been to the Lavallette School as we work to provide positive light for our children during a difficult time. People from every corner of the United States have reached out with financial donations, supplies, and kindness to allow the Lavallette School to keep on moving forward during its 99th year.

I hadn’t seen this at the time, but this is exactly the sentiment she expressed to me when we spoke.  It is extraordinary when you consider the many faces, the many families impacted by this storm and how easy it is to help, if even in a small way.

I’m so very happy I was connected to MaryAnn and Lavallette. I’m honored to have helped in even a small way.  I would love to know if you have found any additional ways to help as well as any suggestions you might have for how we might continue to help.