Courtesy Maria Cavallo Benkirane
Five Towns native Maria Cavallo Benkirane coordinated a Hurricane Sandy relief effort that will have a variety of supplies in Cedarhurst on Sunday.
After speaking to her family, who is dispersed between Cedarhurst, Long Beach, New York City and Port Washington, and then reading comments on Facebook and viewing random online videos of the destruction Hurricane Sandy wrought in her native area, Boca Raton, Fla. resident Mara Cavallo Benkirane became determined to help.
The science department chair and advisor to the Builder’s Club at American Heritage School in Delray Beach, Benkirane enlisted her school’s faculty, staff, students and parents in an all out donation blitz that filled a 57-foot trailer truck with 22 pallets of supplies ranging from water to diapers to garbage bags, and many other items stuffed in it.
“The motto of the week was ‘go bigger or go home,’” said Benkirane, who endured Hurricane Wilma in Florida and understands what people deal with after such a storm. Cavallo and her volunteer army collected the items between Nov. 12-16. She grew up in Inwood and Cedarhurst and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1991.
A truck transporting those supplies from Florida is expected to arrive in the parking lot of Cedarhurst village hall at 200 Cedarhurst Ave. on Sunday afternoon.
Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department 1st assistant Fire Chief John McHugh contacted local organizations such as the Five Towns Community Center, St. Joachim’s R.C. Church, and several fire departments, including those in the Five Towns, Meadowmere Park, East Rockaway, Island Park, Long Beach and Oceanside.
“It’s fantastic, she has done a wonderful thing and put and lot of time and effort into it,” McHugh said, about Benkirane’s relief collection. ‘It’s nice that people remember where they come from and do the right thing.”
Another person “doing the right thing” is Lori Alf, owner of National Air Cargo trucking company. Alf, whose three children attend American Heritage School, donated the truck trailer and purchased $11,000 worth of supplies.