HAMMONTON - It started as a plan five friends had to collect and distribute Halloween candy to children who lost the holiday to Hurricane Sandy.
They started a Jersey Strong Facebook page, and within a few days had truckloads of donations that went well beyond candy. On Sunday they made their latest delivery to Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Atlantic City, which is helping residents in the city.
“I’ve got no voice left,” said Susan Jacobs, one of the founders said, adding she has been on the phone non-stop arranging for donations and their delivery. They now have donated space in two warehouses and five drop-off spots throughout South Jersey for donations. She is also working with the Community Food Bank and the Salvation Army to make sure the goods get to people who need them.
“We don’t take any cash,” she said. “We post a list of what is needed, and people can drop it off.”
If people want to give cash, she directs them to the Red Cross or Salvation Army.
Jacobs, who works for a law firm and attends the Rutgers University campus at Atlantic Cape Community College, said she is overwhelmed by the response. The Facebook page has more than 3,000 friends.
The group has also expanded its efforts beyond Atlantic City and into Ocean City and Brigantine.
“We’re trying to stay primarily in the Atlantic County area, but will go wherever there is the need,” she said.
She is also targeting the donations to items the agencies say they need the most. They are not taking any used clothing, but advise people to donate that to the Salvation Army.
The items they do need are: Baby items including diapers, wipes and creams; Cleaning items, including mops, brooms, rakes, contractor and lawn-size trash bags, bleach and other cleaning supplies; New socks, underwear and new or gently used coats and sweatshirts; boxed and canned food; pet food and kitty litter; and toiletries.
“Brigantine in particular said they need rakes, brooms and cleaning supplies,” Jacobs said.
Other members of the group are Jacob’s daughter, Ashley Rivenbark, Deanna Reilly, Michele Delaney and Kim Grollman.
Drop-off locations include: Calvary Church, 660 South Egg Harbor Road, Hammonton; from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday.
Other drop-off locations include Roma Pizza on Route 73 in Atco; Family and Company Jewelers at 65 E. Rt 70 in Marlton; Rays Barber Shop at 482 White Horse Pike in Atco; More Than Gifts, 401 Taunton Lake Road in Marlton; The Lords Vineyard Church, 211 Colonial Avenue in West Deptford; and AJM Insurance Management’s offices at 2 Coleman Avenue in Cherry Hill, 305 White Horse Pike in Haddonfield, and 725 N. Main St., in Glassboro.