Southern Md. helps with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

End Hunger in Calvert County and the Solomons and Dunkirk volunteer fire departments are collecting donations to aid victims of the hurricane through Nov. 14. One truckload of donations will be taken to New Jersey hurricane shelters Sunday, Nov. 11, and another will be taken Friday, Nov. 16.
End Hunger is collecting donations at Chesapeake Church, at 6201 Solomons Island Road, Huntingtown; Solomons VFD is collecting donations at its firehouse, at 13150 H.G. Trueman Road, Solomons; and Dunkirk VFD is collecting donations at its firehouse, at 3170 West Ward Road, Dunkirk.
Jeff Carroll, a Washington, D.C., firefighter and new resident to Cobb Island, said one of his good friends who lives in Southern Maryland has family that lives in Seaside Heights, N.J., one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. Carroll’s friend traveled to New Jersey to check on his family and survey the damage and Carroll said “when he got up there and saw the devastation first-hand, it just totally blew him away.”
Carroll’s friend posted a message on Facebook asking Southern Maryland residents for help for his family and other victims of the hurricane. Carroll and a few of his friends saw the message, contacted a nonprofit organization in New Jersey aiding with relief efforts and “got the ball rolling,” he said.
“We started asking friends to help out, we got drop-off points set up, we got two different companies to donate the trucks,” Carroll said.
By coincidence, Carroll said, he works with Solomons VFD Chief Jim Taylor at the D.C. firehouse and mentioned he was helping to coordinate relief efforts in the area. Carroll said a Solomons VFD member, Aubre Hinson, was trying to coordinate something similar and “joined in” with Carroll’s efforts.
Taylor said since Calvert County was fortunate enough not to suffer severe damage from Hurricane Sandy and knowing how much cleanup and how many repairs were needed during Hurricane Irene last year, the department decided to help “our neighbors” out.
“We were so fortunate not to get hit with any damage … and we still like to help out outside of our area,” Taylor said.
Carroll said there are two 53-foot semi trucks, which were donated to the effort, they are trying to fill to take to New Jersey. He said because there has been such an overwhelming response of donations of clothes, he is asking for donations of non-perishable items.
Hinson said in an End Hunger press release that the most needed items are cleaning supplies, hygiene toiletries and baby food supplies, such as formula, jars of food and bottles.
Taylor said several Solomons VFD members also reached out to local thrift stores, which have willingly donated several items.
Carroll said he recently approached End Hunger and asked for any extra items they may be willing to donate for the relief efforts. End Hunger took it one step further and offered to collect donations at Chesapeake Church between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. now through Nov. 14.
“It’s important for Calvert County to participate because … a few degrees’ difference and that storm would have hit us harder,” said the Rev. Robert Hahn, chairman of End Hunger. “One way we can show thanks for being spared is by utilizing our resources to help those just north of us.”
Hahn said many county residents have relatives in New Jersey and New York, and the relief efforts being made by the volunteer fire departments and End Hunger is just one way for the county to help other parts of the country.
“We don’t respond to every disaster … but this one we feel particularly close to,” Hahn said. “We are obviously primarily focused on providing relief in Calvert County. At the same time, I think when something of this magnitude happens, we have the resources and the contacts and the networks to reach a lot of people right away to let them know.”
Hahn added that he believes the ability to help others is a blessing of which most people should take advantage.
“We should consider it a privilege, not just an obligation, to be able to help people,” he said.
Other drop-off locations in the Southern Maryland area are at the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department Station 3, at 3245 Old Washington Road, Waldorf; Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department Station 12, at 7000 Saint Florian Dr., Waldorf; Foote Title Group, at 3010 Crain Highway, Waldorf; La Plata Fitness Club, at 140 Drury Dr., La Plata; World Gym, at 6619 Crain Highway, La Plata; Cobb Island Volunteer Fire Department, at 17069 Cobb Island Road, Cobb Island; Southern Maryland Association of Realtors, at 8440 Old Leonardtown Road, Hughesville; Remax 100, at 28105 Three Notch Road, Mechanicsville; and Remax 100, at 23076 Three Notch Road, California, Md.