The call for donations went out late in the week, but patrons of the Collingswood Farmers Market turned up in droves on a chilly Saturday morning to contribute what they could to the victims of Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy.
As they set up that morning, volunteers happily underestimated the volume of donations they would eventually receive from marketgoers. By the end of the day, ten carloads were ferried back to the Cedar Avenue home of Patch contributor Tricia Burrough.
Across town, still more donations poured at the home of organizer-activist Diane Fornbacher, who spearheaded the initial effort. Fornbacher even accepted the donation of a P.O.D. storage unit—generously rented by another Collingswood resident—to ensure that donations could be accepted and delivered continuously, as long as the communities affected by the storm have a need.
Throughout the week, additional donations came in to The Treehouse coffee shop in Audubon and Casona in Collingswood when there was simply no more physical space available at the Burrough and Fornbacher homesteads.
"The beauty of this simple network of independent citizens and their neighbors is that we can be flexible and respond to whatever community is most needy when the truck is ready to roll," Burrough said.
Earlier this week, the group made a big drop-off at the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission in Asbury Park, a permanent shelter that has expanded its charter to care for the many people left in need by the storm.
Thanks to some wrangling from Mayor James Maley and Commissioner Joan Leonard, Collingswood employees helped load up a 26-foot box truck with donations for the mission. Then Burrough and Emily Angehr of Liberti Church of Collingswood hauled literally a few hundred bags and boxes of everything from diapers and baby wipes to toiletries, used clothes, blankets and towels.
In the past five days, the group has supported relief efforts in Atlantic City, Brick, Toms River, and Point Pleasant, New Jersey, as well as in Rockaway Beach and Queens, New York. Brooklyn and Long Beach are likely the next areas targeted for the delivery of donations received this week.
The need is still there, not only for donations, but for volunteers to sort, package and load the collection into vehicles for the next round of deliveries.
The community collection will continue through Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Collingswood Farmers Market (8 a.m. to 12 noon) and thereafter at Casona, Studio Luloo of Oaklyn, The Treehouse Coffee Shop, and the porches at 113 Arlington and 510 Cedar Avenue in Collingswood.
Starting Nov. 14, all Collingswood public schools and the Collingswood Fire Department will also accept donations. (An initial run organized by the Collingswood F.D. over the weekend just about filled the engine bay.)
Not sure what to get? There's an Amazon.com wish list (click here) also meant to encourage out-of-state donations as well.
The needs of those displaced by the storm are many and varied. They include:
- waterproof plastic bins
- cleaning supplies
- first aid kits
- paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels)
- thick winter coats
- new and warm socks and underwear
- work gloves
- propane space heaters (no electricity is available in many of these areas)
- battery-operated lights (please include batteries)
- non-perishable food.
Used clothing donations must be kept to a minimum because many shelters are no longer accepting them. Those clothes that are given should be clean, folded, and labeled. Any cash donations will be put towards truck rental, gas/tolls, and purchasing further donation items, the organizers say.
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