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Westporters reach out to NYers who suffered greater Sandy losses

Published 3:39 pm, Thursday, November 8, 2012

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  • Dale Najarian of Westport helps organize the local donations collected for New York victims of Hurricane Sandy. "I'm from the New Jersey shore, so it seems very surreal," she said. "It's so much closer to home." Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News contributed
    Dale Najarian of Westport helps organize the local donations collected for New York victims of Hurricane Sandy. "I'm from the New Jersey shore, so it seems very surreal," she said. "It's so much closer to home." Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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Everyone is talking about havoc caused by Hurricane Sandy, but a few Westport residents chose to act on their words and do something about it.

Touched not only by the sweeping losses and lingering power outages afflicting Staten Island, N.Y., two local families put a plan into action to help get much-needed supplies to that area.

"It's unbelievable that it's right here, where we can drive there," said Veronica Hofstetter.

"Watching TV and seeing the devastation and feeling so sad for all the suffering, we were just thinking we could drive there and make a tangible difference," she said.

So that's exactly what they did. On Saturday morning her husband Tom, aided by friends and neighbors Nell and Mark Bernegger, rented a truck, contacted some friends to help fill it with supplies, and drove it to Staten Island on Sunday morning.

By Sunday afternoon -- largely through notifications on Facebook and the Internet -- dozens and dozens of people began dropping off supplies for another run.

"At first people started trickling in and then it was three cars at a time," she said.

The Hofstetters live in the big house at the corner of Imperial Avenue and Bridge Street. By Monday morning their front porch and driveway were piled with donated items -- diapers, sheets, food, batteries, water, workman gloves and much more.

Three trips were made Monday, thanks to some other volunteer drivers and the generosity of people throughout town.

"I just feel like I need to do something to help out," said Maryanne Brennan.

Her household lost power for a couple of days, but she said, "It's hard to complain when there are other people out there who lost their whole house."

"I thought it was a great that they were taking such immediate action," said Carolyn Lynch.

"We've all been watching TV and wondering what we can do," she said.

"We felt very lucky. We made it through the storm with very little trouble and it just seemed it was our place to do something," she said.

"I feel very fortunate to be living here," echoed Stacey Tagen.

"They're completely cut off," Hofstetter said of the people on Staten Island. "There's no gas there to even get to supplies."

She said her husband recounted seeing "little kids with no shoes, t-shirts on ... It's crazy."

At this time, however, Project Humanity -- the organization receiving the goods being brought from Westport -- is not interested in clothing donations.

"They need diapers, wipes, batteries, toothbrushes, flashlights, work gloves ... Water, that's always a given ... and heavy cleaning supplies," Hofstetter said.

She said the volunteers hope to continue the effort throughout the week.

"We felt we had to do something," she said, "so this is a tangible effort."