Hurricane Harvey hit Houston hard, then Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida. The Giving Circle, a volunteer non-profit based in Saratoga, sprang into action, organizing the Operation #WeGive2Trucks Supply Drive out of a warehouse on Excelsior Avenue, donated by Frank Parillo. One truck left Monday, Sept. 25 for Houston with everything from water and paper towels to school backpacks for children. Another truck is being loaded for hurricane victims in Florida.
After Harvey hit, and Irma threatened, a supply list circulated, inviting community members to drop off items on Sept. 10, 11 and 12. Patty Riggi, Ann Fantauzzi, Meg Kelly, and Robin Dalton stood ready to receive the donations. Saratogians, knowing that joy is in the giving, gave generously. Staff at the Gideon Putnam Hotel donated linens and towels. Many hands made light work as Bo Goliber, Tom Roohan, Chelsea Hoopes Silver, Sonny Bonacio, Cathy Duffy, Kelly Mommakoikai Bertrand and many others helped out.
Mark Bertrand, founder of The Giving Circle, also lent a hand at the warehouse before returning to Houston to help in the rebuilding, with a big assist from SGS Transportation and volunteers Dennis and Judy Fillmore, Fred Garavelli, David Jones, John Trimmings and Thomas Siragusa.
In seven days, Bertrand’s team had worked on five houses, three of which were brought down to studs and rebuilt. Sheetrock, hot water tanks, doors – everything had to be replaced, which the volunteers did.
Donations at the Saratoga warehouse location were stacked on pallets, wrapped and loaded Sept. 22 onto two trucks, donated by the Hellwig family’s Trans Border Global Freight System. The truck to Houston left Monday, Sept. 25.
Where to send the Florida-bound truck was a difficult decision to make – there’s so much need. That truck was being packed Monday, Sept. 25, and will soon leave for The Everglades, a poorer area of the state that is home to many farmers and migrants, where 80 percent of the houses were destroyed.
The goods should travel safely due to the packing skills of the Saratoga loading team: Leo Geoffrion, Beau Stallard, Jones and Bertrand.
But hurricane season isn’t over yet. Maria just hit the Caribbean leaving heavy losses in her wake. Puerto Rico has never had a storm of such magnitude and may not have electricity restored for six months. The Giving Circle is working on a plan to lend a hand there, too. We will report on this once plans are finalized.
It’s not too late to participate. Gift cards are given directly to families in need. You can donate $25 - $50 gift cards from Target, Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart and mail them to The Giving Circle at PO Box 3162, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
For more information on The Giving Circle visit thegivingcircle.org.