“The damage and loss that people suffered because of Hurricane Sandy was far reaching,” stated Beneficial Bank President and CEO Gerry Cuddy this week. In response to the disaster, the American Red Cross launched relief efforts in 11 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Although many people relate only short-term emergency assistance with the Red Cross, 4 months after Superstorm Sandy made landfall over some of the most densely populated areas in the United States, the Red Cross continues serving storm victims in transition.
Millions of people in New York and New Jersey were impacted. “Many of these individuals are our friends, family, and neighbors and,” said Cuddy, “they’re still picking up the pieces and trying to move on with their lives. As a member of the community, we felt it was our duty to contribute to its repair and return to normalcy.”
Having that goal in mind, Beneficial Bank recently presented the American Red Cross Southern Shore Chapter with a check for $21,487. More than half of the money came from bank employees’ “jeans days” and customer donations at local branches. The Beneficial Foundation, then, topped off those contributions with $10,000. The total amount can supply thousands of people with meals, blankets, and more.
The Red Cross, by the end of January, had already expensed and committed about $145 million of the $254 million pledged to Sandy Relief. Most donations, 57%, went to food and shelter in excess of 11 million meals and snacks and 81,000 overnight stays in relief centers. Roughly 21% of the donations purchased 6.9 million relief items, such as clean up kits. An additional 13% supported housing and community assistance. The remainder funded 16,800 trained caseworkers, more than 300 response vehicles along with other equipment and warehousing, and some 109,000 emotional support and health contacts. Just half a percent of the funds were used for interagency coordination.
Red Cross volunteers are welcome sights and serves are indispensible to people struggling to clean-up and restore their homes or those searching for new living quarters before temporary housing assistance from FEMA ends.
After Deborah Boling, who lives on a fixed income in New Jersey and suffers from pancreatic cancer, finally found an affordable apartment, she had no money for a security deposit until Red Cross volunteer Sara Lanier arrived with a check. Boling told the Red Cross, “I couldn’t stop crying and hugging Sara. This help means a whole lot for me and my family.”
Likewise from Cuddy’s perspective, “The American Red Cross Southern Shore Chapter’s hard work is paying off. Day by day, its talented team is helping restore the communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.”
According to American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern, Superstorm Sandy hit close to home. “Born, raised, and having spent much of my adult life in the area, I know well many of the places hardest hit in New York City and New Jersey. I’m heartbroken for those affected by Sandy,” declared McGovern, “and I assure you that the American Red Cross is committed to spending every dollar we raised wisely to give help and hope to the survivors of the storm as they rebound.” McGovern gave thanks to donors who opened their hearts.
About recovery, Cuddy concludes, “It’s a long process that requires time and money, and that’s where corporate philanthropy comes in. With more than 90% of the funds donated going toward the relief effort, I urge local companies to pitch in. This affects all of us, and working together is the only way to move forward."
Working together, 96% of the debris in New Jersey has been cleared, according to state officials. The next stage is reestablishing businesses and homes. Unfortunately the need for charitable assistance widened when victims found some recovery efforts thwarted after Hurricane Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm and their insurance claims were denied.
For more information about Red Cross efforts and to make a personal or company donation, visit www.redcross.org. Donate to the Jersey Coast Chapter by calling 732.493.9100 ext. 1245.
All rights to this article are reserved by Gloria Blakely. Copyright 2013.