Dressed in no more than a t-shirt, Jersey City resident Migdalia Ubinas held her 1-year-old daughter Jarely Garcia on her hip as she sorted through a box of coats and shoes last week at the United Way thrift shop in Secaucus.
For many like her who may happen to be single parents – particularly if they’re unemployed – the onset of winter chill brings concern about how to keep their families warm and healthy during the cooler months. Secaucus has seen an influx of clothing donations to the thrift store site at 79 Metro Way, which in addition to selling low-priced goods, also disseminates donated items for families in need.
For fire victims, storm survivors
Ubinas and other individuals like her, as well as people who had lost their belongings during Hurricane Sandy, were all present on Nov. 30 when a truckload of North Face coats, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, and boots was unloaded at the thrift shop.
The items are being disbursed to families affected by Hurricane Sandy and those in need in Secaucus, Hoboken, Weehawken, Little Ferry, and Moonachie.
In addition, 100 coats were sent to the families displaced by the fire that took place in Union City last week and another hundred sweatshirts and coats were on the way.
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.
"The work really beings now for the long-term recovery." – President Dan Altilio
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.
Help people get back on their feet
Levine’s son lives in Hoboken. He said that when he saw the devastation throughout the state, he had the desire to do something. He reached out to North Face who got behind the effort. He also contacted Sheehan for his help finding a recipient of the donations, and Sheehan immediately reached out to Gonnelli.
“They take care of us a lot,” said Sheehan of Ramsey Outdoor Stores, which has contributed kayaks for raffles for past fundraising events among other contributions. “We’ve had a relationship for many years.”
Sheehan said Levine wanted to make sure the contribution got into the right hands.
“This is just something we can do to contribute to help people get back on their feet,” said Levine. “It is for people who lost everything.”
Gonnelli has been reaching out to neighboring towns to help get their residents in need clothing and materials.
“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 Secaucus so the town could receive large contributions.
People without heat
“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, Ramsey Outdoor 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 Secaucus municipality and plans ongoing contributions in the future.
The United Way Thrift Shop seeks volunteers. For more information, call: (201) 434-2625 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.
When the shoe is on the other foot, or missing entirely
What do you do with a number of size 8 right outdoor boots that would normally be great for winter if you had the left boot to complete the pair?
Folks at the United Way Thrift Shop in Secaucus are mulling over that conundrum after a number of boxes that contained outdoor sneakers and shoes from the North Face – but a truckload of donations was missing the other pair.
United Way Representative Benjamin Dineen planned to meet with a company that recycles shoes to find a way to make use of the mismatched donation.