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UAlbany Students Assist in Sandy Relief Efforts

UAlbany students and staff delivered boxes of canned food and other supplies to help Hurricane Sandy victims.

(ALBANY, N.Y.) Nov. 20, 2012 -- Many are finding that a huge challenge in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is providing what people need—which may not always match up with what donors want to give away. This recently became clear to student volunteers from the University at Albany’sProject Sandy. As they delivered donated goods to a shelter, they noticed people were being turned away from the site due to limited space and an overabundance of certain items. As donated clothing piled up on New York City streets, the UAlbany volunteers quickly refocused their efforts and handed out blankets, canned foods, and baby formula to those in need.

The trip was made possible in conjunction with UAlbany’s Student Association. Claudio Gomez and five students travelled to makeshift shelters at George Washington High School in Washington Heights, Riverside Church near Columbia University, and Ocean Bay Community Center in Far Rockaway, Queens to assist those affected.

“This was a truly humbling experience for both the students and me,” said Gomez, a counselor with the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP). “Once we reached Far Rockaway, we were distraught by the devastation that Hurricane Sandy left in this city, especially after speaking with those who live there.”

Storm survivors in the Far Rockaway neighborhood had specific requests for everything from baby formula, baby food, diapers, and baby wipes to canned food, blankets, and comforters. Two weeks after the devastating storm most families were still without electricity and heat.

According to Gomez, the UAlbany volunteers also offered emotional support.

“It was important for people in the community to see that others cared about them and that we were responding to their situation,” he said.

University at Albany students filled a school bus with food, diapers, and blankets donated for Project Sandy.

University at Albany students pitched in to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Sira Faizi, a UAlbany freshman from Brooklyn, joined Project Sandy because her family was greatly impacted by the storm. She reflected on the 12 years her father dedicated to building her family’s home and how the storm left so much damage to his hard work. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, her family was still without heat and hot water.

During the service trip, the UAlbany group also made important contacts and gathered phone numbers from community centers for future excursions. They compiled a list of the most desperately needed items and plan to reach out in advance of their next trip, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 2, to ask if the needs have changed.

“I know that getting involved with Project Sandy will help thousands of people. Whether it is sorting clothes or food, or just labeling boxes, I am glad to help out and am hopeful that my family, as well as everyone else’s, will emerge stronger from this tragedy,” said Faizi. For a list of items needed and drop off locations on campus, visit Project Sandy.