When volunteers from throughout Cape May County came together to help residents affected by Hurricane Sandy, their primary focus was local residents and those evacuated there.
More than 1,000 local residents and another 250 families sent to Wildwood received food and clothing from John Lynch, the Lunch with Lynch group and other volunteers working out of the North Wildwood firehouse on 15th Street, said Kevin Celli, an organizer of the effort.
After those immediate needs were met, the group realized they still had plenty of goods to share.
“People were dropping off so much stuff, and our area didn’t need it all anymore,” he said. “But they had given it to help storm victims, so we wanted to make sure it did.”
On Sunday morning, a caravan of two tractor-trailers and six box trucks loaded with goods, and more than 20 other vehicles with volunteers, left for Hoboken, Hudson County, to help hurricane victims there. Trucks from Pennsylvania and upstate New York met them in the city.
Celli, director of Willow Creek Winery in West Cape May, said he had seen the mayor of Hoboken on television talking about the damage there. He said he also has a fondness for the city as the hometown of his mentor, Rat Pensari, who used to tell him stories of his childhood there.
“We all know if the storm had turned just a little it could have been us hit that hard,” Celli said. “We wanted to pick one place, and hundreds of people came together to help.”
Celli said they called the event “From Cape May County with Love from Unnamed Volunteers” because of all the different groups and people who contributed.
The volunteer efforts in Cape May County will continue as long as people need help, Celli said. The one thing they are not accepting yet is furniture because people are stilling cleaning up or don’t yet have a home to put it in.
“Some people are going to need help for months,” he said. “Our first focus was the local community, and we are still meeting that. We are focusing inward first, then outward to our neighbors in the north.”
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