Even though much of Manhattan's power is now restored after Hurricane Sandy, there are still many displaced people that need help. If you've seen photos of the destruction in areas like the Rockaways, Staten Island and Breezy Point and want to lend a hand with the cleanup, giving out blankets or just comforting the victims, there are many groups out there that you can sign up with. Read on to see our tips for teaming up with relief efforts and see how you can volunteer today.
Before heading out to volunteer sites, take a look through the needs – many hubs that are outside of the affected areas have been happily overwhelmed with volunteers, and no longer need people but could use food, supplies or funds. Don’t just show up somewhere, check the latest info on sites like InterOccupy and International Rescue Committee to see meetup points and sign-ups instead of overwhelming volunteer staff by showing up unannounced. Many of these organizations have coordinated pick-up sites for transporting volunteers to affected sites in an organized way. Another good source to find volunteer opportunities is to search #sandyvolunteers on Twitter. If you are willing to lend a hand, your help will do much more good at the affected sites around Rockaway Beach, Breezy Point, Red Hook and Staten Island.
Volunteers are needed at these sites for an array of activities, so even if you are unable or unfit to help clean up the wreckage, your hands and heart are still appreciated. Many residents are in shock after losing everything, and the human connection alone with volunteers – and feeling that someone really cares – is enough to make a huge difference in these people’s lives. Hot food and supplies are a low impact need from volunteers that will continue over the course of rebuilding. But if you’re feeling strong and have work boots or wellies, then your help clearing and cleaning up collapsed sites is greatly appreciated. Whatever help you can contribute, remember to DRESS WARM, as it is much colder near the water, and there are few places to warm up.
As far as donations, many drop-off locations are already overwhelmed with general clothing, so save that for Goodwill. However keep the winter gear coming. Hats, coats, blankets, gloves, rubber boots and warm things are in great need. Other urgent needs include batteries, flashlights, water, candles, diapers and baby supplies, feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies and gear, serving dishes, utensils and anything that produces heat.
There is a lot to be done, and now that the subways are being restored, it will be even easier for volunteers to help out their fellow New Yorkers. Get involved and help restore our great city!
Images © New York National Guard