When Robert DeLucia saw the devastation occurring in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, he wasn’t able to help in the aftermath because he was preparing for his wedding day.
But DeLucia, the owner of Local Junk Boy Removal in Mahopac, vowed if another major storm hit anywhere in the United States, he was going to lend a hand no matter what. Then Hurricane Irma came to Florida with its battering winds and pounding rain.
DeLucia, multiple business chambers across the Putnam County and local organizations, are banding together to provide necessities to help those residents suffering in Florida from the powerful hurricane that started this weekend and continued into this week.
DeLucia said he plans to bring supplies to Florida when he departs from Mahopac on Friday. Donations for the relief effort will be accepted up until he leaves. Some of the items needed for the drive include diapers, toiletries, blankets, feminine products, pet supplies and socks. Monetary donations will be accepted by the Mahopac-based non- profit Community Cares and will be given to local charities in Florida.
DeLucia will drive a donated 30-foot enclosed trailer full of contributed supplies to Florida.
A press conference organized by the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce, was held Sunday to raise awareness for the local relief effort.
This isn’t the first time DeLucia has helped in the aftermath of a terrible storm. When Hurricane Sandy crippled much of the Tri-State area, he spent a few days in Queens assisting in the relief effort.
“I want to help out, trying to help out the best I can,” De Lucia, who was on his honeymoon in Hawaii during a short phone interview, said.
County Executive MaryEllen Odell, who was on hand for the press conference, encouraged people to donate, stressing, “no contribution is too small.” She lauded the business community and other concerned citizens for getting involved.
“It really symbolizes what our county is about,” Odell said. “We are a county that cares.”
Henry Boyd, the president of the Kent-Carmel Chamber of Commerce, has already donated $1,000 to the local relief effort. He and his family own Boyd Artisans Well Company in the Town of Kent.
His wife Julie said the couple knows many people in Florida that own homes. When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, she knew people across the country that assisted New York.
“The least we could do was donate to kickoff the fundraising to help the victims of Irma,” Julie Boyd said.
Students in the Mahopac school system are also getting involved. Board of Education president Leslie Mancuso, who spoke at the press conference, said students would be able to drop off supplies in each school building this week prior to Friday’s departure.
In an interview Sunday, Mancuso said it’s important for students to be part of the relief effort. She noted students in Mahopac do plenty of community service hours and this is another way young people can help others.
“We can have our differences, but when it comes to aiding others less fortunate, like in a disaster, we always pull together and it’s a beautiful thing,” Mancuso said. “And the school and the students and the parents and teachers–we all come together.”
Lt. Col. Carole Voisey, of the Westchester-Putnam Salvation Army, said the organization is happy to be part of Putnam’s ongoing effort. Tragedies like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have shown the “true American spirit of bringing people together to help.” The Westchester-Putnam chapter is coordinating with Salvation Armies in Florida to ensure residents receive the items they need, she said.
Right now DeLucia said he and one other person are going to Florida.
“I feel like if I go down there with a truckload of stuff and supplies to help people it’ll help me feel better,” DeLucia said. “Just trying to bring people together in a time of need.”
For more information go to mahopaccarmelchamber.org and communitycares.org or call 845-628-5553.