Woodland Beach VFD Donations to Help First Responders in NJ Town Hard Hit by Hurricane Sandy
Just six days ago, on Nov. 3, volunteers from the Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department (WBVFD) were asked to partner with the volunteers who run the Anne Arundel County Breaking News (AACBN) Facebook and website to support first responders in New Jersey hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.
We have all seen the news reports of the devastation along the New Jersey and New York coastlines. For our neighbors to the north, it will not just be a cleanup effort, but one of rebuilding that could take months and even years.
According to Chief Bobby Howlin, Woodland Beach VFD posted the information about a donation effort on the website and on Facebook. What started as a request on Facebook quickly turned into a large donation drive.
“The community has been unbelievable with the support,” he said.
The turnaround had to be quick to be meaningful. They started collecting on Nov. 3 and the collection ended Thursday, night (Nov. 8).
They will be taking the donations to New Jersey on Friday in a caravan with AACBN, WBVFD and a couple—Rhonda and Alex Rivera—who live in Edgewater, but hail from Manahawkin, NJ.
This Facebook page has photos of the destruction in the area where they will be delivering the donations.
The Facebook request for items on both AACBN and WBVFD gave specifics for the kinds of things they wanted, socks, rubber gloves, work gloves, under garments, toiletries, bottled water.
Howlin said that the first responders in the area have lost a lot themselves.
‘They are out helping their neighbors while their families are dealing with their own devastation,” he said.
He said when working in the kinds of conditions left by super-storm Sandy, there is nothing like, “being able to put on a dry pair of socks, to brush your teeth, or simply to drink a fresh bottle of water.”
The Rivaras, AACBN and WBVFD secured the initial drop-off location in Manahawkin, NJ. When contacted there, that fire department said they could use many of the items, but that they were overwhelmed with clothes, Howlin said. So they made contact with another fire department about ten miles away where they can use the clothes and other items.
Rhonda Rivera said that before they moved to Edgewater, they lived in Tom’s River, NJ. They still have friends and relatives in the area, including a daughter, mother and sister. When they heard of the Woodland Beach effort, they knew they wanted to be involved. They went door to door and contacted businesses including Safeway, Home Depot and Kmart have been generous.
Not only have the Riveras been helping with collection, they will be part of the caravan of trucks taking supplies north on Friday to deliver to both locations.
Howlin said that they would like to thank the members of the community for the overwhelming support of donated items and the help sorting and organizing everything.
“It’s felt wonderful to do this,” Rhonda said. “It’s amazing how everyone has rallied together. It warms your heart.”
An earlier version of this story was published in time to accept donations, but was pulled by request of Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department.