SECAUCUS, HOBOKEN, AND WEEHAWKEN -- Officials gathered to receive a truckload of North Face coats, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves and boots on Friday as they were unloaded at the United Way Thrift Shop in Secaucus. The items will be disbursed to families affected by Hurricane Sandy and those in need from Secaucus, Hoboken, Weehawken, Little Ferry, and Moonachie.
The contribution was made possible through the efforts of Hackensack Riverkeeper Captain Bill Sheehan and Stewart Levine, ceo of Ramsey Outdoor Stores - the company that dropped off the supplies. Levine had initially reached out to North Face.
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli was credited with coordinating the effort to get materials out to neighboring towns. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Moonachie Mayor Dennis Vaccarro, and Little Ferry Mayor Mauro D. Raguseo were all on hand to speak about how their towns were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Each mayor thanked Gonnelli for his outreach and regular communication to help get their towns materials, supplies, and assistance.
Local business leaders, North Face representatives, Ramsay Outdoor Stores staff, and local officials including Assemblyman Vincent Prieto and Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez were also present at the event.
Levine's son lives in Hoboken. He said that when he saw the devastation throughout the state he had the desire to do something and reached out to North Face who got behind the effort.
"This is just something we can do to contribute to help people get back on their feet," said Levine.
"The work really beings now for the long-term recovery," said Hudson County United Way President Dan Altilio during the press event. He thanked Gonnelli for coordinating the effort. He also spoke about the importance of having the thrift store space, which was donated by Hartz Mountain to the Secaucus municipality, to receive such large contributions.
"The priority is getting jackets to people who still don't have heat," said Zimmer. She noted that 85 buildings are still without heat and that Hoboken is now getting the police involved to address the problem.
Zimmer thanked Gonnelli for his ongoing support throughout and following the storm and said she had no idea regarding the extent of damage to his home, which had 9 feet of water.
"This is just a great day," said Turner. He joked, "if this happens again, Ramsay Outdoors is donating canoes and kayaks!"
Moonachie and Little Ferry both suffered severe and widespread damage from Hurricane Sandy including the destruction of municipal buildings and vehicles.
"Every home had water in it," said Vaccarro. "It is heartening to see how people come together."
"As the weather gets colder it is more important that kids, seniors, and people have coats," said Raguseo.
Fashion Delivers representative Gail Garramone also spoke during the event. The non-profit has contributed over a million dollars worth of clothing for Hurricane Relief to the United Way thrift shop and plans ongoing contributions in the future.