Rye Middle School’s Reach Out Rye club spearheaded an all-day effort Monday to deliver supplies to residents of Rockaway Beach, who were among those wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.
By Sarah Varney
Rye Middle School’s Reach Out Rye club spearheaded an all-day effort Monday to deliver supplies to residents of Rockaway Beach, who were among those wiped out by Hurricane Sandy. It wasn’t just latex gloves, canned goods, paper towels, and dust masks.
The group of about 100 volunteers shoveled, cleaned, swept, and hauled drywall and rubbish from ruined homes flooded by the October 29 storm and its accompanying surging waters. Monday’s caravan met local volunteers at St. Camillus Church; one of the specific projects for the day was helping clean up a school.
The tie to the Rockaway Beach community comes via Charles Carman, a special education teacher at Rye Middle School, who grew up in Rockaway. His father and other family members and friends still live there. In news reports, the difficulty of figuring out who needs what in a small area with no power was mentioned frequently, but Mr. Carman has been hitting the pavement in his old neighborhood to do just that.
“With no electrical power, it’s difficult. I went door-to-door asking people what they need. Those needs will change as the weeks go by and we hope to adapt our supplies and donations to keep up with those needs,” he said. He is also working closely with donation centers in Rockaway. As an example, Mr. Carman said that one of the requests this week was Parmalat milk. “We heard that they needed it and someone here in the community went out and got $300 worth.”
Club members were joined by parents and some generous professionals, including an electrician, three contractors, and four firefighters. Durante Rentals in the Bronx loaned the group four mini-Bobcats and Rye resident Jim DiDonato donated a passenger bus used to carry volunteers to the Rockaway site. Other volunteers followed the bus in a caravan of SUVs.
The generosity of local residents has been amazing, said sixth-grade social studies teacher Craig Dreves, who leads the Reach Out Rye group. Mr. Dreves’ two-car garage was overflowing by the time it came to load the caravan. “There had to be $5,000 worth of donations in my garage and someone also donated $1,500 in cash,” he said.
For his part, Mr. Carman hopes the Reach Out Rye club will continue these daylong missions to Rockaway. He plans to continue his nearly daily efforts to determine the community’s needs. “The goal is to bring back some sense of normalcy,” he said.
Donations and supplies are still needed. They can now be delivered to The Osborn, where coordinator Jane Fox will oversee the effort.