Although Superstorm Sandy did not make a big physical impact in Central New York, it still struck the emotional chord of hundreds in the region, as evidenced by the dozens of donations and drives happening right here in Central New York.
Like many others, Michael DiGiglio had close relatives whose houses were destroyed by the storm, which sparked him, giving him extra incentive to try and help. After speaking to his Verizon coworkers, DiGiglio decided he and his friends would bring supplies down to those in need. Digiglio, Don Locke and Brian Borchik posted on Facebook that they were planning on going to help, and the response was voluminous.
"I thought it was just going to be enough for a little trailer," DiGiglio said. "Then my living room filled up, and my kitchen filled up...I was like, we need more trucks."
Whether it was toiletries, clothes, blankets, gasoline or toys, people from all over the region brought the supplies to DiGiglio's house at 4219 Inverrary Drive in Liverpool (where they say you can still drop supplies off).
They say people told them they wanted to help, but did not know how. Borchik said he was in Wegmans with carts full of food and other items, when he saw an overwhelming response from people he did not even know.
"People were saying 'what's this for', coming up and shaking hands, saying 'thank you for doing this', so it's pretty cool to know that people actually care," Borchik said.
As the donated supplies grew, they had to scramble for a bigger vehicle to drive down in, which is when another person looking to help out, came to them.
"I didn't know where to go, where to bring stuff...what to do," Virgil Dombroski, who donated his van for the trip, said. "These guys needed a vehicle, and we had a bunch of supplies, and a vehicle, we figure we'd do our part and pitch in and get it all down there."
They will depart Liverpool between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m Monday morning, with hundreds of donations in tow. After coming back to Central New York, the group will travel back down to Queens on Friday. They are planning on holding a barbeque for all of the victims and the first responders, a chance for them to give back and interact with those that have struggled so much.
"It'll be fun," Borchik said. "I think it'll provide a few minutes of relief for these people, and know that people from 300 miles away are thinking about them and coming down to give them a little bit of a hand."
The group now has a Facebook page, called "Operation Sandy Relief". They also have a PayPal account, saying that they will bypass the middle man and give the money directly to the people that need it the most. DiGiglio says he has received donations from friends internationally in France, Germany and England, and to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to donate as well.
"We're not charging anybody for anything," Digiglio says. "This is the right thing to do...just the right thing to do."