Through the efforts of DOWNTOWN Magazine’s CEO and Publisher Grace A. Capobianco and the generosity of all the friends and stangers that answered her pleas for help on her Facebook page, more than $1,500 in gift certificates were raised and donated to Staten Island Runners for Staten Island to be distributed to needy victims of Hurricane Sandy, along with all the other generous donations provided by the many runners.
Here is one of the more touching stories that resulted from those efforts:
I wanted to update you on today’s Staten Island run and the story behind my gift certificate donation.
My core group of four runners began the trek from the Ferry Terminal in Staten Island and towards what would be our final destination, the FEMA station. We ran with backpacks loaded with garbage bags, energy bars, batteries, baby wipes and food, blankets, hats, flashlights, and more. I had tucked into my bag a $25 Home Depot gift certificate, one of many that your magazine handed to the runners in hopes that they can pass them along to those who need them the most.
Here’s the story behind my gift certificate recipient, Irene.
Irene and her husband live in a multi-story home near the water in northern Staten Island. When we entered their street, we noticed their house first, or what was left of it. A group of volunteers were helping the couple toss broken furniture from their back yard and onto the front lawn. Battered wooden chairs, a mangled coffee table, and what can only be described as debris were flung over a metal fence, only to be caught in loose power lines and tree branches. The volunteers laughed as they tried to untangle the objects, knowing that a sense of humor is the only thing that can get them and the couple through this ordeal.
Gift certificate in hand, I sought out the owners of the property, hoping to deliver even the smallest bit of good news. Irene’s husband, whose name I never quite caught, directed me to his wife– “the boss”– as he informed me with a chuckle. She appeared on the front porch, sweeping away the fractured pieces of her home with a steady hand. I introduced myself and my group and handed her the gift certificate, acknowledging that it’s not much but hoping that it could be of use. Irene took the piece of paper from my hand and began to sob. I didn’t know what else to do besides lend her a shoulder on which to cry, and so she did. She told me that her cat was in a pet clinic nearby but that it was dying. There was nothing she could do to help it, and she then motioned to a cat carrier covered in a blanket, which we soon discovered housed at least one more stray cat. As she wept, Irene kept telling us that she didn’t care about what happens to her–she just wanted her cats to be OK. The stray needs shots, she explained, and she had no means of providing that.
Irene’s house was severely damaged. Her kitchen was littered with broken appliances, shoes, and more debris. The backyard was strewn with nearly unrecognizable objects that had been damaged and broken to shards by the hurricane. She and her husband were digging their lives out piece by piece, aided by a group of relief volunteers.
Throughout the day, many people were gracious to receive the supplies we offered. Water was a popular request, as were trash bags and work gloves. But what the residents of these battered houses seemed to need the most were help in the form of manual labor and someone to hear their stories. Sometimes, all we could provide were hugs and a promise that they will rebuild their lives again.
Thanks again for your generous work and the chance to hear our stories from today. I was one of the fortunate ones who made it through the storm intact and without loss. I wish I could say the same for Irene and her husband, as well as the tens of people we met today who seemed to have lost everything.
Please let me know if you need anything else.
Help me reach my TFK fundraising goal and run the 2012 NYC Marathon! Donate below!
DOWNTOWN Magazine is proud and grateful to have been a part of yesterday’s relief efforts by the Roadrunners. We will continue to support local organizations in the ongoing efforts to bring aid and comfort to our neighbors Downtown and throughout New York City! Please do the same.