By Kitty Merrill
A six-year-old girl organizes a bake sale with her friends, collecting $250 outside the One Stop Market. An anonymous benefactor donates a helicopter to transport emergency supplies. Shopkeepers in East Hampton and Montauk -- at Lululemon and Kailani -- begin to collect clothes and are soon overwhelmed by the response. A local legislator organizes a benefit concert in Wainscott. A young woman decides to drive her truck to the Rockaways and volunteers quickly fill it with shovels and brooms, plus a generator. The Hampton Jitney takes a busload of volunteers to the Rockaways. A little boy brings his piggy bank to the Montauk Community Church.
Those are just a few of the examples of how East Enders sprang into action this week, looking for ways to assist victims of Super Storm Sandy in Breezy Point, Long Beach, and the Rockaways.
They are efforts largely revealed through social media, with friends contacting friends on Facebook and the creation of a page called East End Cares.
On Monday morning, Johnson Nordlinger, assistant to East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, was helping to clean out a section of the old town hall so it could serve as a collection site. She explained that she and a group of women had gathered at Gurney's Inn on Sunday, trying to figure out a way to coordinate relief efforts that were already underway. In less than 24 hours, East End Cares gleaned over 1000 subscribers and by Monday night the number topped 1500.
Central collection sites were established at the Montauk Community Church, East Hampton Town Hall, and the Omni in Southampton, but they are far from the only ones. Alyson Follenius spearheaded a clothing drive at Lululemon on Main Street in East Hampton beginning last Friday. By Sunday morning available space was filled and the question became – how to get the donations to the needy?
Follenius joined forces with Danielle Quakenbush (her daughter Dakota hosted the bake sale) and Sunday afternoon, a flatbed truck donated by a friend was filled with clothes and cleaning supplies.
Out in Montauk on Sunday morning members of the Montauk Fire Department gathered supplies, packed them onto three trucks and a chief's car and travelled to Breezy Point, Queens, one of the hardest hit areas. Simultaneously, the staff at Kailani, under the supervisor of Samantha Romanowski and Kristin Burke amassed piles and piles of donated clothes. "We started on Friday," Romanowski reported, "and a truckload went this morning. We're going to accept donations till people have nothing left to give."
In fact, by Monday morning, a message went out over the EEC page – NO MORE CLOTHES! Instead, organizers asked for heavy duty cleaning tools, like mops, buckets, contractor bags, plus an array of basics such as diapers and formula for babies, plus paper towels, toilet paper, toiletries like toothbrushes and tampons, and of course, water. Always water. (Visit East End Cares on Facebook for the most up-to-date list of desired items.)
Throughout the day Monday Melissa Berman was one of the point people on East End Cares. On Monday night she posted about the mission to the Francis de Salle School in Rockaway underway as The Independent went to press yesterday.
"We will be landing at La Salle school where we will be helping to move out un-needed supplies and re-stage for possible shelter space. There is a clinic on site too. We will also be out in teams cleaning up and moving what needs to be moved, distributing our meals to hungry people and whatever else pops up (and it will!).
"Mostly we will be sharing our collective love and representing our East End. Thank you to everyone from every community out here - massive amount accomplished in record time. We now have somewhat of an infrastructure going to support projects in other places as needed- we have collections centers and a bank of beautiful volunteers. "
Be sure to check www.indyeastend.com for updates as relief efforts continue. Visitors can post events and additional information on this story's page.
So far fundraising events include:
• A Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert hosted by Legislator Jay Schneiderman at LTV Studios in Wainscott from 7 to 9 PM on Saturday. Admission is $20 at the door. Check out their Facebook page, LtvSandyBenefit, for the list of performers and other details.
• B East in Amagansett is hosting a free ride for fans of spinning tomorrow night at 5:30 to collect donations for Sandy victims. With the exception of warm coats, sweaters, and gently used boots, they're no longer accepting clothing.
In addition to the main collection sites listed above The Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead is teaming up with Long Island Cares to act as a donation site collecting non perishable, ready to eat food, personal care products, baby items and clean blankets.
Dancehampton on Lumber Lane in East Hampton is collecting donations of children's jackets, hats, gloves and other clothing between the hours of 3:30 and 7:30 PM. Those donations will be sent to East Rockaway and Long Beach.
In Southampton a winter clothes drive is taking place at St Johns Church, 100 South Main Street, Southampton.
Mark the bags with Adult Male, Female, or child, and put S, M, L, XL on the outside of the bags, making it easier to sort for the folks who receive.
B & N Moving & Storage, Southampton has gratefully and very generously committed their truck and efforts to transport clothes to a drop off location, according to organizer France Posener. Call 631-903-1990 or 516-702-2033 with questions.