Monadnock region mobilizes to aid Hurricane Sandy victims

With the 2008 ice storm fresh in their minds, residents from Rindge and Peterborough are coming together to provide assistance to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Relief efforts got under way Friday in Rindge at the town’s Swap Shop on Main Street, where volunteers sorted through old clothing donations that could be bagged and delivered to the hardest-hit neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey.

In the meantime, the town’s Highway Department set up an electronic billboard at the Transfer Station to alert residents to a clothing drive at the Swap Shop on Saturday, at which time an influx of donations were collected, said Swap Shop volunteer Gloria Dirusso of Rindge by phone Monday.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this,” Dirusso said, referring to the magnitude of the clothing drive. “As of 1 p.m., half of the [highway] garage was full of trash bags.”

Rindge Select Board member Roberta Oeser said Tuesday that she was watching the news Friday morning when she was taken aback by the path of devastation that Hurricane Sandy left last week along the New York and New Jersey coastlines. It was soon after that Oeser said she was on the phone with town officials and Swap Shop volunteers in an effort to pull together existing resources in Rindge for the hurricane victims.

“It was unbelievable how quickly people responded,” Oeser said. “We could keep collecting clothes, but there are people in New York and New Jersey that have nothing and need these things now.”

Oeser said she contacted the Salvation Army on Saturday and the organization has agreed to pick up the town’s donations on Tuesday for delivery to those affected families out of state.

In Peterborough, resident Kerry Close was contacting town officials and the ConVal School District on Monday to garner support for a coat drive she began just a couple of days earlier. She said the Peterborough Fire Department and Peterborough Elementary School were already on board to serve as local drop off locations.

“I know what it is like when you feel like everyone has forgotten you and you don’t have essential services,” Close said, referring to the ice storm of 2008 that caused power outages and destruction throughout the Monadnock region.

With the cold temperatures quickly approaching, Close said there is an immediate need for coats, hats and mittens for people of all ages. Donations will be collected throughout the week and then, Close said, she and others will be delivering the clothing to New York fire stations and police stations this weekend.

“We realize that there are a lot of things that are needed, but we are trying to focus on one thing so that the impact will be felt,” she said.

With each coat will also be a notecard with a personal message written by a local school child, Close said. The opposite side of the note card will read, “Thinking of you, the Monadnock region.”

In addition to the coat drive, Close said donation checks can be made out to the Peterborough Sunshine Fund c/o Sandy Relief and mailed to P.O. Box 577, Peterborough, N.H., 03458. All of the money will be used to purchase coats, hats and mittens, Close said.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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