Thanks to local efforts, a tractor-trailer filled with disaster supplies is headed to New Jersey and New York to help Hurricane Sandy victims.
Cape Coral resident Christine Sullivan, who is originally from the Jersey Shore, was discussing the storm with friends when they decided to host a benefit event to collect donations for residents affected by the storm.
"We were talking about feeling helpless and not knowing how to help," she said, adding that her friends also have family up north or know people.
On Nov. 12, Rockin Up a Storm was held at Back Streets Sports Bar, featuring 11 area bands. People were asked to bring supplies to donate, and the venue's owner provided an RV to collect and store the donations.
"We filled it up," Sullivan said.
Attendees donated non-perishable food, first aid items, toiletries, cleaning products, clothing, pet food, small appliances like microwaves and more.
Chico's clothing donated six pallets of clothing and pajamas.
"Things of that nature," she said. "Things they need right now."
After being sorted and boxed, the supplies were loaded onto the 53-foot tractor-trailer. On Tuesday, it left for the railroad yard. The tractor-trailer has been donated by Swift Transportation and Keystone Transportation.
Sullivan explained that the supplies will be dropped off at eight sites, including Atlantic City, Toms River, Brick, Red Bank, Highlands and Scotch Plains, all in New Jersey, with the final two stops in Staten Island, N.Y.
"I'm from the Jersey Shore and my town was devastated," Sullivan said.
It took her five days to get in touch with her family and friends.
"They didn't lose lives," she said. "Things can be replaced."
The group chose the sites after seeing photos on social networking sites online and the news. They contacted people in the most devastated towns.
"We organized the stops so that there would be easy access and distribution," Sullivan said.
The Center For Vocational Rehabilitation, in Eatontown, N.J., will oversee the supplies' distribution. One local partner has been the SWFL Relief Alliance.
"We've been through many many storms, but nothing like this," she said of the communities in New Jersey. "I couldn't sit helpless and do nothing."
"I live in Florida, but my heart is there," Sullivan said. "That's my family, that's my friends - for me, that was my reason (for doing this)."
The SWFL Relief Alliance operates an adopt a family effort. Sullivan is now partnering with the group to collect toys for the children hit by Sandy.
"We have a list of names, so that people can donate directly to a family," she said.
Participants are given the name and address of a child, along with their age and Christmas list. They then buy an item and ship it directly to the child.
"They'll get the gratification of knowing that they're helping someone directly," Sullivan said, adding that it also eliminates the shipping issue.
For more information, visit the SWFL Relief Alliance's Facebook site at: swflreliefalliance, or e-mail the group at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in the program can also contact Sullivan at 810-6118.
"I think that a lot of families aren't going to be able to do this for their kids," she said. "The money that they're receiving isn't enough to rebuild their homes, much less have a Christmas."
The Rockin Up a Storm bands included 10,000 Views, Carnival of Soul, Clanton Gang, Four Flat Cadillac, Grayson Rogers, Groove Alliance, Lemongrass, Renee Hose, Sheena Burke, Stolen Fruit and Ultra Stomp.