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Friday, November 28, 2014

In Sandy’s wake, a surge of support
Five Towns agencies collect, distribute supplies
Ann E. Friedman/Herald
Toiletries, flashlights, batteries, children’s clothing, toys, diapers, cleaning supplies, paper goods, utensils and kosher food are still in high demand in the Five Towns.

After seeing many people in the community with homes ruined and lives turned upside down in the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Five Towns Community Chest Board President Steven Spiro said the organization was spurred into action.

The Woodmere-based organization dispensed $100,000 to provide needed supplies to the community at several distribution centers, including the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence. In addition, Community Chest used storefronts throughout Woodmere as collection centers for donations of clothing, blankets, flashlights and other goods.

Spiro went door to door throughout the Five Towns on Nov. 10, distributing blankets, socks and towels. Community members’ spirit was uplifting, he said. “It was heartwarming when items were refused by residents [saying] that they should be given to others that need them more than they do,” he said. “Another said he knows he’ll ultimately recover, but he was most upset for his 3-year-old and his 5-month-old that no longer have any toys to play with.”

Due to the storm, Community Chest postponed its Neighbors in Need Cabaret Night, scheduled for Nov. 15 at the Woodmere Club, and allocated all of the funds raised through previous event ticket sales to hurricane relief for struggling local families.

Rita Skolnick, executive director of the JCC of the Greater Five Towns in Cedarhurst, said that the organization called all of its clients to learn whether they were safe and had food and other provisions. “We called every single one — from the elderly to our special-needs clients — and we sent out our social workers to check on them,” Skolnick said. “Many of them were with their families, but some were still in their homes, so we brought them food and helped them call their families.”

The JCC’s Kosher Food Pantry delivered hundreds of packages to those who needed kosher meals, Skolnick said. “Every day we are a relief center, since we have heat and electricity,” she said. “People can charge their cell phones or come in for a hot lunch.”

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