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Kutztown and Fleetwood residents delivered two truck loads of food, water, blankets, clothes and more to victims of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.
“We had a very big response from the people in Fleetwood and Kutztown and tons of businesses were so willing to help,” said co-collector Sherry Arak.
The collection was started about two weeks ago by Ben and Audrey Faust of Faust Tree Service in Fleetwood and Jack and Sherry Arak of GRQ Used Furniture in Kutztown.
“When Hurricane Sandy hit, me and my husband Jack Arak were very upset, as we go to Seaside Heights and Long Beach Island often. We had just been to Seaside this August with our kids,” said Arak. “We lost a place my kids have gone for years, and looked forward to going in the summer. We’ve stayed at the same hotel in Seaside Heights for the past 10 years. Seeing it like it is, is very, very sad. And friends of ours had family in Long Beach Island that lost everything.”
They parked a 26-foot Uhaul truck behind the Borough Hall in Fleetwood, and they parked a 16-foot box truck in the parking lot at GRQ Used Furniture in Kutztown. Both drop sites were available for drops 24/7.
“Some went way out of their way to help. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church had such a huge response with donations they filled almost half a truck,” said Arak. “The response was awesome. I think knowing how much everyone was willing to help, made us work harder to get all the items collected and down to the people who really needed them.”
Collecting items for about two weeks, they filled from floor to ceiling one 26-foot Uhaul truck that was delivered Nov. 9, and a 16-foot box truck was delivered Sunday.
“All the trucks were filled with clothes for kids and adults, cleaning supplies, food, water, and baby supplies. We even got strollers, car seats, play pens, and a lot of blankets,” said Arak.
The first truck was sent to The Long Beach Island Grade School in Ship Bottom, N.J. They had volunteers from the area and also military from the 177th Fighter Wing Base Civil Engineering, from Egg Harbor, N.J., to help unload the donations, said Arak.
“We hope that all the donations will help the people in those areas that lost everything. Maybe with some of the items sent, it will be one thing they don’t have to worry about,” said Arak. “They have so much to think about, and figure out, maybe helping with clothes and cleaning supplies is now something they don’t have to worry about.”
Fleetwood resident Keith Claytor also started a collection point with the Fleetwood Lutheran Church and Fleetwood Fire Company. They combined efforts with Arak and Faust to deliver donations to Long Beach Island, N.J.
“We really wanted to try to get some of the essentials of living into the hands of those who needed them desperately,” said Claytor. “With the cold that was ushered in after the hurricane, we wanted to get warm clothing, coats and blankets to the coast as soon as possible.”
Claytor said it was important for them to get involved in helping victims of Sandy.
“I think that many of us felt a sense of helplessness as we watched what was unfolding, and really didn’t know what we could do to help. The donation drive was important to us because it gave us all a way to focus an effort toward the victims, and benefit them directly from our little town of Fleetwood,” said Claytor.
The response to the request for donations was overwhelming, said Claytor.
“We had quite a number of people from the church, Girl Scouts and the Fire Company helping us to package the donations. Everyone who helped out can attest to how tired we were at the end of the evening. Tired but thankful. I’ve always felt that Fleetwood was a great town where people who see a need lend a helping hand,” said Claytor. “The donation drive was important to me because it solidified that feeling, and made me proud of my community.”
Claytor wanted to thank St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fleetwood for allowing them to take over the church for a few days. He also thanked Ben Faust for coordinating the truck and transportation of the donations.
“I would like to thank everyone who was so willing to help. I think this showed our community how we can come together to help others in need,” said Arak.
She listed those involved.
“Fleetwood Borough Hall let us park the truck in their lot.
Fleetwood Police helped us get a Uhaul.
Uhaul on 5th Street in Reading donated the truck.
Ben Faust used his trucks.
Jack Arak used his truck and parked it at his furniture store in Kutztown.
GRQ Used Furniture in Fleetwood, parked truck in their lot.
Fleetwood Rotary helped us get started with a name and our first monetary donation.
Fleetwood Bank opened an account for us for monetary donations.
Fleetwood School District Superintendent Dr. Paul Eaken put out an email to the entire school district about taking donations.
Cornerstone Auto gave us a generous donation towards the truck’s gas to Jersey.
Effective Graphics Solutions donated signs for the side of our trucks.
Mission T’s donated T-shirts with disaster relief on them.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church took up huge collections to help fill our trucks twice.”
Also lending a hand were Ladies FOE Aux #839, Cub Scouts Pack #133, Joe and Louanne Kasperowiczand many more businesses and friends and family who donated items.