CARS HOMES JOBS

Area drop boxes supporting Sandy victims

Sunday, November 4, 2012
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Donations were brought to the Hampton Inn in Clifton Park for victims of superstorm Sandy on Sunday.
Donations were brought to the Hampton Inn in Clifton Park for victims of superstorm Sandy on Sunday.

— There are two guest rooms loaded with extras at the Hampton Inn in Clifton Park.

Along with the usual amenities, though, you’ll find bottled water and juice, a variety of snacks, breakfast cereal and even disposable diapers.

These aren’t deluxe suites reserved for big spenders, just ordinary rooms set aside for an extraordinary purpose: to house donations collected for those hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy.

You can help

Several donation drives have been scheduled to help survivors of Hurricane Sandy.

• WHERE: Hampton Inn, 620 Plank Road, Clifton Park

WHEN: Ongoing

SUPPLIES ACCEPTED: Nonperishable food, clothing, baby supplies and more

WHO WILL BENEFIT: Storm survivors on Staten Island

• WHERE: Advantage Limousine, 137 Lark St., Albany

WHEN: Today and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

SUPPLIES ACCEPTED: Nonperishable food, toiletries, new clothing for children up to 16 years old

WHO WILL BENEFIT: Sandy survivors served by Kids in Distressed Situations

• WHERE: Hilton Garden Inn, 125 South Broadway, Saratoga Springs

WHEN: Today

SUPPLIES ACCEPTED: Nonperishable food, clothing, baby supplies and more

WHO WILL BENEFIT: Storm survivors on Staten Island

• WHERE: Saratoga County businesses, including Hot Yoga Saratoga, Adirondack Appliance, Roohan Realty, Bloom: A Movement Space, Uno Chicago Grill, Druthers, Cantina Restaurant, The Children’s Museum at Saratoga, Tiny Tots Tea Room, Mouzon House, Comfort Kitchen, Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio, Hair Creations, Crush and Cask Wine and Spirits, The Hampton Inn in Saratoga Springs, Aggie Mullaney and Eugenio’s Cafe

WHEN: Drive ends Tuesday at 1 p.m.

SUPPLIES ACCEPTED: Toiletries, hand sanitizer, tissues, baby wipes, diapers, baby formula, combs, undergarments, new clothing, blankets, shoes, toys, books, first aid kits

WHO WILL BENEFIT: Sandy survivors served by Kids in Distressed Situations

MORE DETAILS: www.mamatoga.com

Overwhelmed by the devastation caused by the storm, Nafeesa Koslik, the hotel’s general manager, decided to do something to help those struggling downstate. She started a supply drive Friday, with help from the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, and donations of everything from cat litter to Cheerios have been pouring in ever since. Room 100 is stuffed so full of donations there’s only a skinny path of floor space visible, and room 102 isn’t far behind.

Koslik planned to end the drive early this week, but response has been so overwhelming, she’s decided to extend it.

“It will go as long as people bring stuff,” she said.

Organizations, businesses and individuals across the region are hosting drives to collect supplies for those whose lives have been turned upside down by Hurricane Sandy. Needed are nonperishable food items, warm clothing, toiletries, diapers, formula and first aid kits, and Capital Region residents are responding with great generosity.

Faith Girard of Clifton Park stopped by the Hampton Inn on Sunday morning, her arms full of jackets.

“I received information on my Facebook page that there was a drive and that people were in need of coats, and I thought, ‘Well, this is one way I can help.’ I couldn’t get down and help them out with gasoline or housing, but I could help out with coats, so I was happy to be able to do that,” she said.

Catherine Gayron of Troy pulled into the hotel’s parking lot a few minutes later, the trunk and back seat of her gray Nissan Altima stuffed with dog food, cat litter, cleaning supplies and clothing. Gayron, originally from Brooklyn and a former Long Island resident, said she feels a special connection to those who lost so much in the storm. A psychotherapist by profession, she said a major trauma like Hurricane Sandy puts storm survivors at risk of depression and anxiety. Donations like the ones coming in across the region can help with both practical needs and emotional ones as well, she said.

“Gifts of love and support can be calming and soothing and help people get through it,” she explained.

Capital District Medical Transportation in Albany started a supply drive Saturday in conjunction with Advantage Limousine in Albany.

“We’re hoping to fill a 20-passenger bus to the top,” said Jolan Deutsch, co-owner of the medical transportation company.

The two businesses are collecting nonperishable food items, water, blankets, toiletries and new clothing for children up to age 16 and have received quite a few donations already, Deutsch said.

The collection will continue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Tuesday at Advantage Limousine, 137 Lark St., Albany. Everything collected will be distributed to those in need by Kids in Distressed Situations, an organization which, according to its website, has provided more than $1 billion worth of new clothing, shoes, toys, books, baby products and more to 70 million children in need throughout the United States and overseas since 1985.

Inspired by the drive the medical transportation company and the limousine company had started, Jenny Witte, founder of local parenting website mamatoga.com, began a collection effort in Saratoga County. On Friday, she started contacting businesses to serve as donation drop-off sites and wound up with close to 20, all of which are listed on her website. Some businesses are offering incentives like free ice cream cones, fitness classes and homemade hash browns to those who drop by with donations.

The large cardboard receptacles she left at each site have been filling up fast.

“I knew Saratoga would respond to it because people are very giving in this city,” she said.

The Hilton Garden Inn in Saratoga Springs also started collecting supplies Saturday.

“We have both sides of our lobby halfway filled and the phones have been ringing nonstop about making donations,” said guest services representative Elizabeth Knezovich.

In the donation pile are essentials including comforters, dog food, canned goods and drinking water.

The drive will continue through this afternoon, and all supplies will help those in need on Staten Island.

“The community really came out so far. It exceeded our expectations,” she said.

According to Knezovich, the Saratoga hotel is housing a number of people from downstate who were displaced by the storm. The Hampton Inn in Clifton Park has opened its doors to storm survivors as well, offering discounted rates and even, in some cases, free rooms.

Jerry Flowers of Lincolndale was wheeling a bell cart piled high with plastic-bag-encased possessions to the parking lot of the Clifton Park hotel Sunday. Flowers, three family members and a friend sought shelter in Saratoga County after the power went out in their neighborhood in northern Westchester County. They threw together three days’ worth of clothing and supplies and came to the Capital Region because it was the closest place to their home where they could find rooms to accommodate them. They were making the three-hour drive back home Sunday in hopes the power would soon be restored.

“Our power isn’t up yet, but they’re telling us by 11 o’clock [Sunday night] we should have power. Who knows if that’s true or not. Based on the update that we heard, there’s still 100,000 [without power] in Westchester County,” Flowers said.

He and his group stayed for several days at a discounted rate at the Comfort Inn in Saratoga Springs before coming to The Hampton Inn in Clifton Park, where they were offered a free room Saturday night. Flowers remarked about how kind everyone in the area has been.

Not long after he left the hotel lobby, an illustration of that kindness walked through the automatic doors — Kristin Cimmino of Scotia, lugging a case of bottled water. She set it on the counter in the reception area and returned to the parking lot for canned goods, baby food and diapers.

“I believe you have to kick down to get down,” the 31-year-old said of her desire to give. “You’ve got to put positive vibes out there to get positive vibes back in your life.”

 
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