- In Franklin Township, New Jersey, not far from the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, a 1 million square foot warehouse is buzzing with activity around the clock. On any other day, it would be just a warehouse in a suburban industrial park. Now it’s a primary hub from which an army of volunteers for the American Red Cross are running the massive relief effort to aid the families and businesses that lost everything in the storm.
That warehouse is where 10 ModSpace employees from our corporate office outside of Philadelphia spent last Wednesday, November 14 as Red Cross volunteers. As donations pour in from around the globe, volunteers are needed to get supplies to the Red Cross shelters throughout Northern New Jersey and New York.
3 ways to help charities like the Red Cross:
Give Money: Financial contributions from private citizens and businesses which the Red Cross uses to purchase food, clothing, medical supplies, etc.
Volunteer: In the end, disaster relief is a hands-on effort.
In Kind Donations: Usually from large corporations, these are items such as clothing that are given to the Red Cross for distribution to those in need.
In kind donations is where the ModSpace crew pitched in. Gayle Knutson, a Red Cross volunteer from Minnesota, was on a two-week assignment and served as our point of contact. Like many Red Cross volunteers, Gayle worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.
Gayle was charged with ensuring that in kind donations reached those in need. While she and the Red Cross are grateful for all donations, it became clear to us that these donations demand added attention from volunteers. Each donation must be organized, inventoried, allocated and distributed.
Forklifts buzzed around the immense workspace, carrying supplies to waiting trucks destined for area shelters, as our team got to work. We opened box after box, consolidated like items, repackaged and labeled them, and prepared them to ship to nearby shelters. By the end of the day we had prepped more than 20 pallets of supplies from generous donors like Under Armor, Nike, Sorel, and Merrell.
Volunteering is never what you expect. It’s not romantic or glamorous. But it is heroic. And no matter how or where you volunteer, it is incredibly rewarding.
When we first considered volunteering for the Sandy relief effort, we talked openly about helping families repair storm-damaged homes and feeding children. In reality, home repairs are best left to qualified emergency responders and building contractors. And for every person feeding a hungry child, there are dozens more receiving shipments, packing trucks, making deliveries, and raising awareness and funds to keep it all going.
While few get to actually hand out meals to displaced families, it is the volunteer support from behind the scenes that makes those moments possible.
“Although the Red Cross is made up of thousands of volunteers from around the U.S, Canada and Mexico, we couldn’t do all we need to do to aid disaster victims without the support of local volunteers who come in and give us a hand,” Gayle said.
As media attention around Sandy fades, the need remains. The holidays are here and temperatures are dropping, but thousands of Americans remain in Red Cross shelters.
The American Red Cross needs your help. They need money to buy food and warm clothing. They need volunteers to keep relief efforts going. And they welcome in kind donations of goods that will help people recover sooner.
Go to www.RedCross.org to give whatever time or money you can spare today.