Packing for Sandy Gift Drive
(CLARENCE, NY) Images of the ongoing cleanup and rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy in coastal areas of New York and New Jersey are quite a contrast with the traditional joy of the holiday season. But this time of year also means giving. And in this case, a quickly organized collection effort by some women in Clarence is bringing Christmas to some people in those hard hit communities who have lost just about everything. They doubled their goal and collected about 2,000 donated toys and gift items for shipment downstate.
Sandy Gift Drive organizer Debra Lesinski says she first discussed the idea of collecting gifts for people affected by Sandy with her husband and then with friends. Then she called churches in the affected areas to see if they could distribute donated gifts. Lesinski: "It just started from there. They just called the people from Buffalo their angels and got all excited. And we've just been collecting now for three weeks, four weeks..whatever it is."
Eight year old Jacob Woelfel of West Seneca discussed the idea with his grandmother.."She said if I would like to donate anything to the people that lost everything and I said 'sure'. So then we went out and bought two things and then we told everybody and gave a flier to everybody. And then we spread it and spread it around my family. And I called people and they all donated a lot of stuff."
Elizabeth Woelfel described her son "He's very thoughtful, very amazing and he's just so kind and generous."
Jacob's generosity matched efforts of neighborhood groups, local businesses, and scout troops who assisted. As another organizer, Joanie Clover, puts it "You don't really realize what you have until you start giving to others. And it's a good thing. And that's where I think the energy comes from in this room. People are happy to be a part of something good. And not your typical Saturday at the mall before Christmas. That's true."