It's been about 10 days since Hurricane Sandy ripped through sections of New York and New Jersey, gashing the landscape and leaving behind wounds that will heal, but with scars. In Weston, power was out for an entire week.
In Wayland, power lines and trees bore the brunt of Sandy's wrath, but those small inconveniences pale in comparison when the images of locations in Sandy's direct path cross television screens and magazines.
Wayland resident Cynthia Hill on Sunday night watched a segment of "60 Minutes" focused on the section of Queens, N.Y., known as Breezy Point. It's a community that Hill first encountered after 9/11, when Hill and her husband, David, traveled to a fire station in New York to meet some of the firefighters who lost colleagues the day of the attacks. On Sept. 11, 2001, Hill and her husband were traveling from Logan Airport themselves and boarded a plane next to one of the planes used in the attacks.
After that day, and realizing how close they came to being passengers on one of the tragic Sept. 11 flights, Hill created a needlepoint belt for her husband and they traveled to New York where some firefighters added stitches to that belt. Hill also set out to raise money for the children of firefighters who died responding to the attacks. The Hill family's relationships with firefighters there continue to this day.
The devastating losses Hill saw in Breezy Point, a community where many of those N.Y. firefighters from her past live, broke her heart and compelled her to action.
Within 48 hours, Hill and some friends had secured the cooperation of Wayland's local emergency officials and the as-yet-unopened Wayland Town Center Stop & Shop to conduct a massive supply drive that will take place from Friday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 11.
"Everybody has said yes," Hill said. "I have done nothing but smile. You don’t get very often in your life times when you can pay back. This is a golden opportunity to pay back.”
Stop & Shop is donating the 40-foot truck, the driver, gas, pallets of bottled water and workers to help pack the donated supplies. What's needed now, are the donations.
Hill solicited a list of needs from her contacts at the 100 Duane Street Firehouse. The firehouse itself isn't operational right now due to storm damage, but it is still staffed. Firefighters there are working to help the surrounding community recover and they are requesting the following specific items (items marked with an asterisk are especially important):
- Space heaters
- Hose* (all sizes)
- Screw guns (cordless)
- Electric cords* (50-foot & 100-foot lengths)
- Contractor bags*
- Rubber boots (the kind that slip over regular shoes)
- Work gloves* (M, L and XL)
- Hooded sweatshirts (L, XL and XXL)
Hill is also requesting warm, like-new clothing for men, women and children as well as non-perishable, grab-and-go foods that don't require water to prepare -- items such as granola bars, fruit cups, pre-made tuna salad in sealed pouches, cheese and crackers, Spam and more.
"And let’s not forget the children," Hill added, suggesting items such as jump ropes, board games or hulahoops. "Think of your own children’s most basic needs."
Suzi Robinson a spokeswoman with Stop & Shop said the grocery chain was thrilled to be able to help when approached about the Breezy Point Project.
"We’ve been so appreciative of the response and reception in the town," Robinson said. "There have been folks that are so excited about us opening up. We certainly want to do everything that we can to show the community that we’re there for them."
Donations can be dropped off at the Wayland Stop & Shop beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9. Donations will be accepted through Sunday, Nov. 11. The truck will head to New York on Tuesday.
Contact Cynthia Hill at 508-358-5695 with any questions.