Helena, Hannah, Siri, Bobby, and I went to the Rockaways to bring supplies and volunteer for cleanup. The photos don’t even do it justice – the area is completely devastated. Washed up boats and cars line the roads, families are wandering around the streets with their remaining belongings in carts. Houses and businesses are flooded, burned down, demolished, in shambles. The air is thick with dust and sand, the boardwalk is gone, and the beach has covered the parking lots and roads. Whatever you imagined it to be, it’s probably worse.

As you can see in the pictures, the amount of clothing donations has been overwhelming, but there is still a huge need for actual groundwork. Volunteering your time is the best way to contribute. It’s amazing what we were able to accomplish in one day as a group, and the more people who can get out to the hardest hit areas and get to work, the greater the results will be.

I know a lot of you have been contributing to the Red Cross, and that’s great, but please consider donating to smaller initiatives. While we were out there, I saw only two Red Cross trucks, and one of them was part of a procession (to be honest, it might have been the same one). There were more food trucks present, serving free hot meals to people, and grassroots volunteer groups who were getting their hands dirty and getting things done. The independent operations are a lot more present with a lot (and I mean a lot) less funding. They need your help and your dollar will go farther.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Volunteer on site or at a local shelter, or donate supplies. This site is a great hub for volunteer and donation information – and you can find up to the minute updates on their twitter @occupysandy. If you don’t have a car, they  arrange transportation from specific locations. If you want to donate supplies, check the lists for needed items – they’re updated regularly.
  • Donate to help feed hot meals through NYC food trucks. They’ve been driving to badly affected areas and feeding hot meals to thousands of hungry people who were affected by the hurricane. With this crazy cold weather, canned goods aren’t going to cut it. Give the gift of a hot meal.
  • Donate to Masbia soup kitchen. They’re feeding the seniors at the Park Slope Armory, as well as other locations. They also feed people in need, year round.
  • Donate to Robin Hood’s Sandy Relief Fund. They support over 200 of the best NYC programs to fight poverty year round and are transparent about their costs; they have a four star rating on charity navigator. Your donations will go toward relief for hurricane victims, and they’ll see to it that it will go where it’s needed most. You can also view a list of the programs they support here.
  • Organize a fundraiser, bake sale, or at least share links of twitter and facebook! My cousin Shana and an amaazing group of volunteers (parents and children alike!) were able to raise over $6,000 for Masbia with a couple of bake sales near Prospect Park. I find that truly inspiring. 
Have any other suggestions? Please leave them in the comments below. We need to help one another stay in the know!