NANCY POWELL ¦ Staff Writer
Boxes of donations from Ocean Pines are secured for the trip to New Jersey.PHOTO COURTESY SHARON OHARE(Nov. 23, 2012) The outpouring of help for victims of Hurricane Sandy continues in the Ocean City area.
Since the “Frankenstorm” hit at the end of October, people have donated goods, money and hours of work to benefit others in distress.
The Ocean City Chamber of Commerce is still collecting some items at its Route 50 office and visitors center.
“Our storeroom is full and I’m going to Crisfield again Wednesday,” Lisa Dennis, events coordinator for the chamber, said Monday. “We take anything like bleach, cleaning supplies, paint and building materials, but no clothing and no blankets.”
In addition to those items, the chamber also accepts gift cards, which it uses to buy supplies. Some gift cards were used to buy heaters.
“We’ve donated 40 heaters at this point,” Dennis said.
Dennis has been taking the items to churches in Crisfield and to the Somerset County office building in Princess Anne, where they are distributed to people in other towns. She has met some of the hurricane victims, including a couple of families that had just found places to move into.
“They definitely have a long road ahead of them,” Dennis said. “They just can’t emphasize enough their thanks for the support from Ocean City and Worcester County. We’ll keep collecting until they say they don’t need it anymore.”
The chamber started its collection drives as part of Sandy Clean-up Across Delmarva, which is also continuing its work.
That group, started by Beach Patrol veteran Colby Nelson, took requests for help and filled them by soliciting volunteers to do work, such as cleaning out debris left behind by Hurricane Sandy. They also collected bags of clothing and other donations that they took to Crisfield to help storm victims there.
People find out what is needed, where to go to volunteer and what fundraising events are being held by going to www.facebook.com/SandyDelmarva-CleanUp. They helped clean an Ocean City business, an area on Ayres Creek and the yard of an elderly man in Delaware.
Some people used the group’s Facebook page to offer help. While many in this area were donating items for people in New Jersey, one woman from central New Jersey wrote that she had received a lot of clothing donations for babies, teens and adults, and wanted to know if this area was in need of clothes.
The volunteer group has branched out and is helping victims of other disasters. In mid-November, it was seeking donations to help victims of a fire in Roxana, Del. Those donations were being accepted at Glen Riddle Pro Shop.
Its next event is Christmas for Crisfield, to be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 1 at Brandywine Senior Living off Route 54 in Fenwick, Del., and at Pizza Hut in Ocean Pines. The group will be collecting new toys, wrapping paper, bows and gift cards for the older children. Toys will be wrapped and given to Crisfield children by Maple Shade Youth and Family Services.
Meanwhile, Crisfield residents held a drive of their own to help others. Last weekend, they held a Toys for Tots collection drive. It had always been held that particular weekend and they did not change the date just because many of them had become hurricane victims.
In Ocean Pines, the communitywide collection effort continued until Thursday, Nov. 15. People could take their donations to the Ocean Pines Community Center, the police headquarters in the administration building or the Sports Core.
When the Ocean Pines relief effort began, the list of requested items included clothes, playing cards, toys and games, food and many other items.
Toward the end of the collection, the list of items was narrowed to canned goods, dry goods, cleaning supplies, baby supplies and gift cards. A large room at the Public Works Building was overflowing with donations that were placed in labeled boxes and placed on pallets, ready for transport.
Last Friday, trucks donated by Shelby Trucking and Construction were loaded with donations, which were taken Saturday to three towns in New Jersey. The first stop was in Little Egg Harbor, the second stop was in Toms River and the third stop was in Brick.
“The community effort was truly amazing,” said Teresa Travatello, public relations manager for Ocean Pines, on Monday. “I wasn’t sure how fast the community could pull together to fill the truck of relief until I started receiving phone calls with donations less than a minute from sending out the e-blast and posting it on Facebook. I continued to receive dozens of e-mails and phone calls from the community wanting to let us know how proud they were to live here and be a part of helping out our neighbors and how else could they help.
“The effort seemed to remind folks why they moved here. It was overwhelming to see how much of the community pulled together to bring the resources to help those in need.
“The last stop hit home. We passed by a community with everything in the front lawns.”
A massive collection effort named OC for NJ concluded Sunday, Nov. 11. Congregations of Ocean City Worship Center, Ocean City Baptist Church, SonRise Church, Atlantic United Methodist Church and Crossway Church plus Mountaire Farms in Selbyville, Del., Home Depot, and Scotts Lawn Service worked in collaboration with several businesses to supply items to New Jersey victims of Sandy.
At Home Depot that Saturday and Sunday, volunteers were in the parking lot from 7 a.m. until dusk accepting donations. Volunteers with OC for NJ had obtained a list of needs from New Jersey and only accepted those items. Most of the donors were aware of the requested items from newspapers, radio, television, Facebook, mass e-mails or fliers handed out to shoppers before they entered WalMart or Home Depot. No clothes were accepted for the trip north.
Although a few businesses made large donations, “individuals donations are what actually filled the truck,” wrote volunteer Laura Lee Purnell in an email. “Cars drove through a drop-off and we met them at the car and unloaded for them, so they would not have to park.”
Purnell also wrote that people “were amazingly generous with their donations.”
Boxes were labeled for items to go into and as they were filled, they were taped up and relabeled.
On Monday, Nov. 12, the donations were loaded into a donated Mountaire tractor-trailer and on Tuesday, they headed north at 5 a.m. Those making the trip north that day were the truck driver, Purnell and eight other volunteers.
The donations were taken to Grace and Peace Church, which was used as a staging area in Toms River, N.J. That church had organized Home – Jersey Shore United and acquired five other off-site locations to store supplies to be distributed to people in the hardest hit coastal areas of the state.
“On the receiving end they were amazed and so thankful,” Purnell wrote. “Grateful at how the boxes were organized so they could be put right on pallets and not need to be sorted. This helps them not to use volunteers to sort, and put volunteers at more needed areas. They also were thankful we brought help to unload the tractor-trailer. They had men ready working on this 16 hours a day.”