Hurricane Sandy Relief: How You Can Help

UPDATE: 11/13/12 Tide Loads of Hope has relocated to Island Park, New York and opened at 10am this morning.

I have spent the past week alternately in tears, sending panicked texts and messages to check on the people I love and staring at pictures and video of what was formerly the East Coast of this beautiful country.  It has been hard to keep my jaw from dropping, my eyes from filling, my chest from tightening, as I see the struggles, as I watch the gas lines, as I hear from friends about homes lost, memories gone and electricity that still hasn’t come back on.

How is it possible these are the same shores where I have witnessed waves, the same homes I have visited, the same stores who have sold me their wares… all under water.  I pace around my home, the same refrain pounding in my ears:

“How can I help?”

I have collected some of the easy ways you and I can reach out. Whether you have a few dollars, a few hours, diapers, blankets, batteries or canned goods – there is a way for you to help.  Start here:

The Red Cross.  This is an easy one.  If you are far away (or close by), money is ALWAYS in need to provide for the many items families need.  You may have seen “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together”, the benefit telethon held on Friday night.  TV Technology is reporting the event generated nearly $23 million dollars for victims of the Hurricane. And that amount was donated just between 8pm and midnight – a record number.  This is good, amazing even, but there is still a need. You can, of course, still donate to the Red Cross online,  call 1-800-HELPNOW or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Occupy Sandy: This is one of the most comprehensive sites I have seen.  It has an active Facebook page  and Twitter with constantly updating volunteer needs (wonderful if you are in the area and have the time).  But those of us who are far away, never fear, it also has a ‘Sandy wedding registry‘ linked to Amazon – that will allow you to purchase items needed in area shelters. Everything from food to blankets, diapers to candles, coats to batteries and generators.  If you have a few dollars or hundreds, you can certainly find a way to contribute.

Tide Loads of Hope – Right now, Tide is helping families in New Jersey by doing their laundry.  They wash, dry and fold clothes.  I know this is a help as one friend drove two hours the other day just to do hers. They are stationed at Lowe’s 118 New Jersey 35 Eatontown, NJ 07724.  They accepted 1,000 loads of laundry on Saturday, their first day of operation and even began to line people up at 6am though their official start time was 8am! You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates. (and you can make a donation or buy a vintage T-shirt if you would like to contribute to their cause)

STL For Sandy: Right here in my own backyard, two 53-foot trucks are being packed with donations that will be driven from St. Louis to New Jersey beginning on Saturday, November 10th. Donations can be dropped off at multiple locations around the St. Louis area.  You can see the greatest needs listed on the site.

Hyper Local: From Belmar, New Jersey (where a wonderful friend, Dawn Sandomeno, of mine lives) – the Borough of Belmar is collecting donations for relief and recovery.  You can donate through their site, or visit their distribution center.  The Hurricane Relief Distribution Center is at the Belmar Arts Council Building, 608 River Road (@ Seventh Avenue), Belmar. Relief aid is now being deployed door-to-door to our residents. (Their most urgent needs are listed on the site.)

Adopt A Staten Island Family – The wonderful bloggers behind The Staten Island Family and Complicated Mama – Melissa and Corine are making it possible for you to adopt an individual family over the next two months.  With their help, you can make one donation in November and another in December that will help these families make it through the holidays. The donations would be based on the families specific needs. Visit their post for more details.

Stew Leonard’s Farm Fresh Foods – Drop off non-perishable food items at any of their four locations on the East Coast (Connecticut area).  For every pound of food donated by their customers, they will match the gift and take them to the C0nnecticut Food Bank and Food Bank for Westchester.

My amazing friend Nicole Feliciano from MomTrends is organizing a Diaper Drive in New York City among other charitable endeavors.  Visit her if you would like to contribute that way.

My brain is still wrapping its way around some other ideas – ways I want to create a bigger dent.

The need here is vast.  It is deep and it will be here through Thanksgiving, through the December holidays and well past the New Year.  There are and will be families who continue to be homeless, in need of food, and warm clothing. There will be families who want desperately to give to their children during the holidays.

I want to help and I suspect you do to.

Give good, Get good.  We’ve got this.

Photo Credit: Tide Loads of Hope Facebook Page