People stopped by the offices of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association asking “What do you need?” Then they would either head home or off to one of the local shops and come back with an armload of goods.
We had dozens of volunteers who spent hours at our offices at 84-20 Jamaica Avenue sorting through and organizing the thousands of items of clothing that were donated. Their diligent work was an inspiration, and I trust that their hard work, along with the tremendous volume of donations, will put to rest the perception that the Woodhaven of today is a town where people do not care about their neighbors.
The hard work and long hours put in by our volunteers really made a difference. In my various trips to different donation and collection sites, one thing that I noticed was that many other places weren’t taking the time to sort, organize and label the donations received.
When bagged clothing was reaching its final destination it was often put aside for later sorting. As a result, the end destinations are choked with massive piles of unsorted clothing.
The donations we delivered were warmly received because they were organized in a way that easily facilitated distribution. Think of it this way – your neighborhood has just been hit with a disaster. You have people who are numb, cold, tired and hungry that need your help. The last thing you need is more work; you don’t need to start sorting through a thousand bags of clothing.
The donations from Woodhaven were labeled: “Men’s Jackets,” “Ladies Sweaters,” “Children’s Warm Clothing,” etc. The donations from Woodhaven were passed on directly into the hands of the people who need them.
The residents were also very generous with their money, donating over $2,500 to the cause over just a couple of days. Much of the donations were made in the form of $1 and $5 increments. But we also set up a PayPal account so people could donate online (where we received very generous donations up to $200).
The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association has posted a full accounting of the spending of these donations online, complete with scanned copies of every single receipt, with listings of every item purchased. We hope that this level of complete transparency will ensure that residents are comfortable that we are spending their donations wisely.
At 6:30 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 9, we will be holding a “Flashlight Vigil” for the victims of Hurricane Sandy at Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway. It’s just like a candlelight vigil except you’ll bring flashlights with fresh batteries – and after the vigil you will leave your flashlights with us to take to the people who need them.
We will also be collecting other supplies at our office on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., and all day Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What sort of supplies are we looking for? We’ve been talking to people on the ground in the impacted areas and they need items such as matches, lighters, heavy-duty garbage bags, work gloves, face masks, flashlights, batteries (especially “C” and “D” but all kinds are welcome), cleaning supplies, soap, paper towels, shovels, rakes, buckets, bottled water, aluminum foil, Ziplock bags, and can openers.
As for food, donations that are ready-to-eat are fantastic. Fruit, crackers, energy bars are all good examples of that. They are in need of baby food and formula (along with diapers). And you can never go wrong with canned goods – we need lots and lots of canned goods. And we can’t forget about our four-legged friends – pet food is needed as well.
Please bring some items off this list when you come to Woodhaven’s Flashlight Vigil on Friday and drop it off at our office nearby. The only items of clothing we are accepting at this time are blankets and winter jackets. We apologize in advance, but we are going to have to turn away all other clothing at this time.
We haven’t been able to say it enough over the last few days, so we’ll say it again – thank you! Thank you to everyone who donated items and/or money. And a gigantic thank you to those who donated time and energy at our donation site and those who donated the use of their vehicles (especially with gas in short supply).
The residents of Woodhaven have proven to everyone what I always knew to be true – a Woodhaven residents’ heart is big and pure and I am proud to call them my neighbors.