As East Coast neighbors continue to dry out and clean up in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, Central New York continues to help, lending unique talents to recovery efforts.
Cindy Seymour knew she wanted to help with Hurricane Sandy relief - it was just a matter of what to do. Seymour, a former police officer, is now a co-owner of the popular Laci's Tapas Bar and also renovates real estate properties. At first, Seymour though she and her friends could help repair homes, but after talking with June Worden, another former police officer, they decided to use their culinary training instead. Seymour knows disaster areas can be chaotic scenes and that emergency crews are working around the clock.
Next week the Laci's team will open a temporary pop up restaurant in the New York City borough of Queens. They will focus on serving police officers, firefighters and other first responders - many of whom are working 16 hours a day. Seymour says she has already heard from a grateful officer who is looking forward to a hot meal.
"He is helping other people but no one is coming to help them. They haven't seen FEMA, they haven't seen the Red Cross, they haven't seen anyone yet," said Seymour.
The team from Laci's will head down to New York next Wednesday. They will spend a week serving hot soups, sandwiches and coffee to emergency workers.
"They may be working that 16 hour day but they also care for their community. These are vital members of their community and their community is decimated," said Worden.
Reverend Andrew McTyre says many people want to help with disaster relief but don't have an outlet. McTyre is suggesting families put together hygiene kits for use in shelters. People can drop off hygiene kits at the Park Central Presbyterian Church in Syracuse on Saturday from 9:00am to 2:00pm and on Sunday from Noon to 5:00pm. McTyre ask that volunteers put a new washcloth, a small towel, a bar of soap, six band aids, a new toothbrush in the packaging, nail clippers and a comb in a one gallon plastic bag. Working with Church World Service, McTyre hopes to send 3,000 kits to New Jersey.
"Writing a check is great because that can be used in so many ways but this provides an opportunity to become more involved hands on and educate your children," said Rev. McTyre.
Park Central Presbyterian is at 504 East Fayette Street, where it meets Townsend in the city.
The Laci's team is also accepting donations of batteries, flashlights and tools - specific items that are needed right now in New York City. Those items can be dropped of at the restaurant on Hawley Avenue in Syracuse this weekend.
"We're going to feed people and by the way, we're going to bring people that can help people as well. those are two of the most important things," said Laci's Tapas Bar co-owner Laura Serway.
Many agencies helping Hurricane Sandy victims need money to support their efforts. The website CharityNavigator.com can help you make sure a charity is legitimate and how your donation will be designated. You can also safely donate to well known established organizations like the Red Cross.