The Putnam Examiner

Putnam Communities Collect Supplies for Victims of Sandy

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Donations collected at the Brewster vs. Sleepy Hollow football game.
Donations collected at the Brewster vs. Sleepy Hollow football game.

Downed trees, power outages, mild flooding and a gas shortage are the extent of the damage Putnam County incurred from Hurricane Sandy. Inconvenienced as residents were, upon seeing the devastation that occurred along the New Jersey and New York coastline many forgot about their own discomforts. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves they felt compelled to help the displaced by providing much needed supplies to the tragically hit areas such as the Rockaways, Breezy Point, Staten Island, Coney Island and the Jersey Shore.

“We have to do something,” said Donna Massaro, owner of the Freight House Café in Mahopac. Massaro teamed up with fellow Mahopac resident Alana Sweeny, who is the executive director of New York City’s Police Athletic League (PAL), to bring supplies those who were served by PAL. Several PAL centers have been damaged.

“I am very upset about the kids in Coney Island,” said Sweeny.  “The food pantry is gone, and many of the families relied upon it. The little ones got, for many, their only warm meals at our centers; something in the morning, a good lunch and hearty snacks in the afternoon. I am so worried they will be hungry- and cold. We could transport them to a different afterschool center, but we don’t have a bus to do it.”

Sweeny said it was too early to determine when the damaged center could re-open. “It may be months before we can re-open,” she said.  “Every one of our early childhood centers on Coney Island is gone.”

Several car loads have already been brought down to PAL’s distribution center in Queens, and Massaro is continuing with the efforts. The Freight House Café is accepting donations of coats, blankets, water, shovels, feminine products, toilet paper, dog food and more, that will be brought down to the hurricane survivors.

Massaro is not the only one accepting donations on behalf of those affected by the hurricane.

Jim Rathschmidt, who runs the organization United for the Troops, which collects food, money, and goods to send to the troops that the military does not provide the soldiers, has teamed up with Rising Tides Alliance Business Group in White Plains to collect goods for the hurricane survivors.

“They need Tylenol, Children’s Tylenol, work gloves, face masks, shovels, band aids, boots, antiseptic, bleach, cleaning rags, baby wipes, flash lights, contractor garbage bags, tooth paste, toothbrush, mouth wash,” said Rathschmidt. He is accepting donations right outside of his Mahopac home, which is located at Boniello Drive.

Donation drives are happening all over the place. On Sunday the Putnam Lake Fire Department held a Stuff-a-Bus event to collect items for the shoreline residents. Then on Monday, the Brewster Fire Department held a collection also.

No matter which side attendees of the varsity football game between Brewster and Sleepy Hollow rooted for on Saturday, they all showed a sign a unity by participating in donation drive.

Jennifer Maher, chairwoman of the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce, has been working with several local businesses like Ding Dong Deli in Mahopac to set up ongoing drop off sites for supply donations.

“This is not going to be a short-term problem,” she said. “These are the supplies they need now, but soon they are going to need things like furniture and other items to help them put their lives back together. I want to help make sure they get what they need.”

She intends to continue to help organize drives and is confident that the local resident will continue to find it in their hearts to give.

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