Local couple collecting supplies for Sandy victims
When a Port Charlotte woman called the Atlantic City Fire Department, she was shocked when she received an unexpected earful of Hurricane Sandy victims who were crying in the background.
“The girl told me to hold on and set the phone down on the desk,” Karen Dennison said. “I could hear people begging for food and all the girl could offer them was a cookie.”
The conversation reaffirmed Dennison’s mission: she and her husband Ray currently are gathering nonperishable food, clothing, toiletries, baby supplies and blankets for hurricane victims. They plan to collect items for the next two weeks and then drive up the East Coast, delivering them personally to Lincroft, N.J.
“They were one of the hardest-hit places,” Ray said. “That is what the emergency-management team told us.”
Lincroft is a small township located in Monmouth County.
The couple, along with some of their relatives and neighbors, have received hundreds of donations from Charlotte County residents. They set up collection boxes at several area locations, including Joe Cracker Sportsgrille, Easy Clippers Beauty Salon, John Hall’s Goal Post Grill & Sports Bar, and a Rent-A-Center store, all in Port Charlotte; the Charlotte Sun office in Charlotte Harbor; and Harpoon Harry’s restaurant in Punta Gorda. Items also can be delivered to the couple’s home at 150 Barre Drive, Port Charlotte.
People can make monetary donations to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, which was set up by the Dennisons, at any area Wells Fargo bank.
They will collect supplies until Nov. 19, when they plan to head north and deliver the provisions with rented trucks.
Karen said she was told by the Middletown Emergency Management Department that there was a great need for items for infants like baby food, clothes and diapers.
Karen and Ray have lived in the area for only four months, but were residents of Fort Myers during Hurricane Charley in 2004, an experience that influenced their decision to collect supplies.
“When we have the power go off, we take off our shirts,” Ray said. “Those people up there are freezing.”
Hurricane Sandy devastated portions of the Northeastern United States in late October. There was particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. The storm surge hit New York City on Oct. 29, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines, and cutting power to millions of residents.
“People from all over the country offer assistance when Florida gets hit with hurricanes,” said Jimmy Evans, a volunteer who plans to deliver the supplies. “It’s our turn to give back.”