After Hurricane Sandy: Easy Tips on How to Help

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As Hurricane Sandy made its way toward our fair city by the sea, we began to fear that the worst would unfold on Manhattan and her outer boroughs.  As New Yorkers are ought to do, we made the most of the worst by keeping in touch via social media, toasting marshmallows over candlelight and almost enjoying a slower pace of life.

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Now that the storm is over and we’ve seen hundreds (if not thousands) of images of a ravaged New Jersey, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and lower Manhattan, we begin to think just how we lucky ones can assist those in true need.  Many of us were fortunate, others simply inconvenienced, some truly lost everything… so if there’s anything we can do today it is to help.
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Here’s our list of ideas:
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  • Check on your neighbors – People always assume New Yorkers aren’t friendly.  Prove them wrong by checking on your neighbors because, while you may be OK, your neighbors may need a helping hand, particularly those who are older or have limited mobility.
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    • Use social media to your advantage – Many charity services are taking to twitter to send real-time messages about what to do, where to donate and what truly is needed.  Follow those sites to determine how you can help best and leave the phone lines open for true emergencies.  We’ve even created a twitter list to better help you.

 

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  • Find a charity – When trying to asses which charity works best for you, consult with CharityNavigator.org to discover charities working on location.
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  • Work from home – Although we’re all eager to return to the regular pace of things, many of us are without proper transportation.  If you can e-commute, do it.  (even the BG SM team has taken to their couches – and many thanks to our bosses for letting us do it!)  The streets are jam-packed and it’s one of the simplest things we can do to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.
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  • Clean out your closet – If you are working from home, dedicate your typical commuting time to clean out your closet & find clothes to donate. Thousands of people lost everything and they could use your t-shirts, sweaters and such.  Keep in mind: winter is coming and a nor’easter is looming — cold weather gear is of the essence.
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  • Text to Donate – Even if you aren’t in the thick of it, you still can help.  Many charities accept donations via text.  It’s the simplest thing you can do and it takes just seconds.
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    • Return to your usual routine – If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that New Yorkers are resilient.  Commuters walked, car-pooled and taxi-shared as they made their way back to work and back to life. Mayor Bloomberg rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Busses made their way down Fifth Avenue. Last night restaurants and bars clattered with the cheerful sound of conversation and clinking glass.  Not only will returning to routine eschew any latent feelings of cabin fever, it will restore the soul of New York and that, more than anything, is what will bring us back.

 

    • Sort, sort, sort - One of the things we’re consistently seeing charities request is for people to help sort & sift through donations.  If you have a spare hour or two to give, visit your local donation center and sort.

 

    • Get cooking! - Many neighborhood distribution centers are desperate for hot and prepared meals to feed to their communities.  Email the facility in advance to confirm what they need you to prepare. Even our tweeter put her sandwich-making skills to the test when she and a few friends prepared five-hundred sandwiches for the Red Hook Initiative.

 

      • Clean out your beauty closet – Shop in bulk or one to keep the travel-friendly-sized beauty products at the ready?  Sandy victims have lost everything and are desperate for day-to-day basics like shampoo, body wash, etc.  Check with local charities to see who could use your extra beauty stash.

 

      • Have a slumber party - many in lower Manhattan lost power and running water.  If your home is fully functioning, offer your place to friends and family who need to regroup.  And, if you need to digitally reconnect with friends and family, don’t forget: BG has wifi.

 

      • Donate your surplus supplies - after you tidy up your apartment, assess your hurricane supplies stash and divide your hurricane kit into future use (it seems Fashion City now may become a hurricane city) and shelter donations.  Although you may be ok, others are not.  They certainly can use your extra water, canned goods, extra pet food and such.  Always check with the donation center to see what they need before making your delivery.  Visit NYC.gov for locations still needing donations.

 

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If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comment box below.  This is a time to join together and it all begins with you.

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