Sandy.

There are no words to describe what happened to this area and the resulting damage Sandy left in its wake. It is truly unimaginable, something out of a Hollywood movie that sadly came to reality. And what could I do but watch it all unfold 3,000 miles away as I was “stranded” in California waiting for the airports to re-open.

Three days ago I returned and found nothing out-of-order. In my Brooklyn neighborhood it was literally as if nothing happened. I felt like an a-hole. I still feel like an a-hole. While thousands of people have been affected drastically by Sandy I have what I can only describe as “survivors guilt.” While houses were destroyed, power zapped light from the city, and people were fighting hunger, cold and gas shortages…I was safe, warm and well fed in California. It’s just not fair. It is events like this truly make you remember how lucky you are and how it could have been you.

So I arrived back to NYC super early Friday morning and quickly began reaching out. Where could I help? What could I do? Friends and social media acted fast and soon enough I was deep cleaning the walk in fridges and freezers of God’s Love We Deliver. It was awful to see hundreds of pounds of food all ready to go out to hungry New Yorkers be thrown out en masse. And this was just one instance…..families and communities are having to do this every minute of their day and find some way to pick up the pieces.

A few hours at God’s Love just isn’t enough…..well not to me. As I prepare to start a new job today I know that my time is limited but my wallet is not. This disaster didn’t just happen to a few East Coasters…it happened to all of us. I take a lot of things for granted in this city and Sandy forced me to take a step back.

If you too wanna help but don’t know where to start, just do a simple google search. Hundreds, if not thousands of topics will come up. But here’s a little something to get you started….. donate however you can- it doesn’t have to be only about money. Some people lost everything. It’s not just about food or clothing think about everyday essentials that we all take for granted (laundry, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc). I beg you to just look within yourself and find something to do to help.

Here are a few places to start….

Donate $$: Put your money where your mouth is and donate to organizations who you know will put that money to good use. Places like Gods’ Love We Deliver, City Harvest, Food Bank for NYC, The Red Cross, and more are in need of help to keep their operations running.

Donate Time: Have some extra hours to spare? Check out New York Cares and find hundreds of projects to help rebuild our communities.

Donate Food: Check out this list of food pantries in and around NYC and give ready-to-eat or non-perishable foods

Donate Blood: NYC is in desperate need of blood donations. Schedule an appointment with the New York Blood Center.

Donate Clothing: it’s gotten cold….really cold. Go through your closet and think to yourself…. do I really need four fleeces? Here are some places to donate new and slightly used clothing in New York.

Occupy Sandy: A coordinated relief effort to help distribute resources and volunteers, this group’s website is a great resource for how to help in your neighborhood or where to donate goods.

Eat Out: There is a movement in Manhattan and Brooklyn of restaurants who are giving a portion of their profits to Hurricane Sandy Relief called #DineOutNYC. Check out this list, go to one of those restaurants, eat, double the tip and ask them to give it to relief efforts. Spending money with locally owned businesses is crucial! They are the lifeblood of local economy and need our support to help our communities.

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