Thousands of people across Ocean County have been left without food, shelter, power and heat due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
“If people have ever wanted to help, now is the time. I have worked in outreach for 25 years and I have never seen anything like this. It is devastation at the highest level,” said Carol Latif, Director of Ocean County Hunger Relief. “We really need people that haven’t been hit to help all of those that have.”
Latif said Ocean County Hunger Relief is trying to get back on their feet to provide necessary items to all of the people in need.
“We have a network of 28 pantries throughout Ocean County and we are working to get them up and running,” she said. “We lost our pantries on the barrier island and many inland still have no power. We can feed out of Toms River, but we really need to get our network back up.”
The Toms River office is currently working off of a generator in an attempt to answer all calls for help. Since the storm, Ocean County Hunger Relief has been working offline trying to help as much as possible.
“We have been taking food from our warehouse and delivering it to the pantries that are open and to the temporary shelters where so many people are staying.”
The organization now needs support in order to continue their efforts. They accepting food, money or gift cards to buy food.
“The main thing that we need right now is food,” explained Latif. “When people donate, they also need to remember not to just grab everything off their shelves. We mainly need stuff with some shelf life and people need to check the expiration dates before donating.”
They will also accept warm clothing and household items such as blankets, coats, gloves, scarves, socks, etc. as so many people are fighting the cold weather in their homes without power.
Click here for a full list of supplies needed.
To donate, Latif asks people to call her at (732) 505-4357 to find the closest pantry in need. Donations will also be accepted at the Toms River location at 917-5 North Main St. Toms River, NJ 08753 in Corrine’s Jewelers Plaza.
Once the pantries are all up and running, the organization will also need additional volunteers.
“Our goal is to get our current volunteers working first,” said Latif. “Then, once they are out and working we will be looking for more people to train and help with our efforts.”
If you are interested in volunteering, call 732-505-4357 and leave your name, number and availability.
In addition to this local oganization, there are many other ways to help:
Other volunteer opportunities in New Jersey are being coordinated through an emergency response hotline, 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397). Alternate numbers, for when the hotline isn’t staffed, include 609-775-5236 and 908-303-0471 or emails can be sent to Rowena.Madden@sos.state.nj.us.
The American Red Cross is collecting funds and coordinating blood donations. The organization sheltered more than 3,000 people across nine states during the worst of the storm. You can donate $10 by phone by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) takes donations to rescue and shelter animals affected by the storm. Nearly 300 animals are staying with their owners in shelters in the New York City area, the agency said.
The ASPCA is also setting up a distribution center in Syracuse, New York with 4,000 sheltering units, which contain pet food, crates, food bowls, toys, and anything else an animal may need.
AmeriCares: You can donate to AmeriCares’ relief fund to help the organization, which is distributing supplies to 130 clinics in the 13 states affected by Sandy.