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Nov 12, 2012 3:45 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Mothers' Association Collecting Gift Cards For Sandy Victims

Nov 13, 2012 6:03 PM

Dismayed by the damage Superstorm Sandy caused on the East End and in western Long Island communities, and driven by a desire to help others, the Hampton Bays Mothers’ Association is collecting gift cards to be distributed to families in need.

Kerry Wilkie, who helped organize the drive, said members have already collected more than $2,500 in gift cards over the past two weeks, and she has already made two deliveries to Breezy Point, a Queens community decimated by flood waters and a blaze that destroyed 111 homes.

“It’s just something that you don’t have a choice [about]—you have to do something,” said Ms. Wilkie, a founding member of the Hampton Bays Mothers’ Association, a 70-member strong group that is dedicated to making the community a safe, nurturing environment for children.

She pointed out that in Long Island’s tightly packed towns and hamlets, even those fortunate enough to avoid Sandy’s destruction know someone who was affected. For her, it was her childhood friend Pam Long. Ms. Long, whose Breezy Point home was damaged by flood waters, is now coordinating the distribution of the gift cards to families in her hometown, including those who lost everything.

“My biggest thanks on behalf of so many people who have lost so much,” Ms. Long said during a phone interview this week. “It’s humbling to see the generosity of so many people.”

Ms. Long said her husband, Jim, has spent summers in the Breezy Point community since he was a child, and that her family now owns a home there. Though their home sustained only flood damage, their family members and friends lost everything in the blaze just a few blocks away.

“It was such a tight-knit community,” she said, reflecting on the damage and hole left by the fire. “It’s such a sad place—it really is.”

Ms. Wilkie said her organization has also helped a number of local families whose homes were damaged in last month’s storm, as well as families who have relocated to the East End to stay with family members or friends because their homes further west were destroyed.

“We’ll try to get help to anyone around here who needs it,” she said, adding that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she and others filled a tractor-trailer with supplies and sent it to New Orleans. “It was just such a powerful thing then, and now it’s here. We have to help people in our backyard.”

The Hampton Bays Mothers’ Association is asking for gift cards—which are easier to transport and distribute—to stores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Old Navy, Babies “R” Us and Stop & Shop, or generic prepaid debit cards. Ms. Wilkie said she will also accept cash that she will use to purchase additional gift cards.

She said she plans to make one trip a week to Queens through Thanksgiving and possibly after, as long as the need is there.

Donated gift cards can be dropped off at one of the following locations: Scotto’s Pork Store in Hampton Bays; Southampton Stationery, Stevenson’s Toys and Games and the Southampton Publick House in Southampton Village; C’s Home & Office Management and Sag Harbor Garden Center, both in Sag Harbor; Katherine and Company Salon and Day Spa in Westhampton Beach; Agaves in Bridgehampton; and Quench Wine and Spirits in Patchogue.

Ms. Wilkie said anyone wishing to contribute and anyone who knows of a local family who could benefit from the gift card drive can contact her at kwilkie@optonline.net.

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Great job Kerry and HBMA!!!
By hbnewbie (4), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 12 4:09 PM