The electricity was out inside West Hempstead High School Friday but dozens of students, faculty and parents were inside demonstrating the true power of their community by banding together to help those in need.
From noon until 4 p.m., they collected and organized countless boxes of clothing, food, water, blankets and other supplies that came pouring in from local families and businesses including loaves of bread, rolls, candy, Gatorade and Vitamin Water from Riesterer's Bakery and cases of bottled water from National Wholesale Liquidators.
All the donations will be delivered this Sunday to families in Island Park, including those who attend West Hempstead High School, who were left devastated when Hurricane Sandy battered their neighborhood.
While the destruction in Long Beach, the Rockaways and Staten Island have been in the spotlight in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Island Park is being "forgotten," Loraine Magaraci, West Hempstead PTSA president, told Patch Friday while coordinating the collection drive with Board of Education Vice President Karen Brohm and High School Principal Dan Rehman.
Margaraci and her teenage daughter, Ashley, drove down to Island Park earlier in the week to assess the damage and pick-up some of the kids who wanted to spend some time away from the nightmare situation. She discovered the homes had no gas and no power, and had suffered severe damage when the water surged several feet.
"I came home so upset," Magaraci said. "Nobody was set up to give them anything. They are freezing. They have no water, no coffee ... At 6 p.m., it is black down there."
Although the water has since receded, the lines on the windows of the stores and parked cars there show just how high it did rise. Many vehicles are also scattered haphazardly around the neighborhood because they were carried there by the water, she explained, adding, "There's a boat in the 7-Eleven parking lot."
Although many people did evacuate before the hurricane hit they have since returned to Island Park to take care of their homes but they need help.
While the brigade of volunteers at West Hempstead High School collected tons of food, clothing and supplies Friday, there are still items that are very much in demand. They will be back at the high school Saturday, Nov. 3, from noon to 4 p.m. to accept more donations and prepare them to be delivered to Island Park Sunday.
The following items are needed:
- Large, black garbage bags
- Latex gloves
- Non-perishable foods that don't need to be cooked
- Feminine hygiene products
- Cleaning Products including bleach, sponges and scrubbing brushes.
- Battery-operated radios
"Our goal is to be in Island Park and hopefully set up around 11 a.m.," Brohm told Patch. "We're going to make two central locations where people can come to us."
One of those sites will be Lincoln Orens Middle School (150 Trafalgar Blvd. Island Park). The other has yet to be determined. Brohm said they would like to use the Island Park LIRR train station, but she needs to reach out to FEMA, because she heard they had set up there already.
Brohm explained that volunteers will also be dropping off care packages with basic supplies to the homes of West Hempstead H.S. students living in Island Park, since they have a list of these families' addresses. However, "If people want clothing they will have to come to us to get it, because how will we know what they need?" she added.
The supplies will be delivered to Island Park aboard West Hempstead fire trucks and some residents' pick-up trucks. Anyone wishing to help load the vehicles on Sunday should arrive at the high school around 8:30 a.m. Those interested in heading down to Island Park to help distribute the supplies should contact Karen Brohm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Hempstead High School is located at 400 Nassau Blvd.