Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts through the Unitarian Church of Staten Island

Photo taken at the UCSI Parish Hall after donations had already been sent out multiple times and neighborhood volunteers had gone out on runs.

Dear Friends,
I have not had a moment until this one I am taking now to report and update on the efforts of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island in the wake of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island. For over two weeks, we have been acting as a drop off location and coordinating donations from the North Shore of Staten Island to the South Shore.  It has been full time work to help relieve the extreme suffering here on the Island.  Now I am finally able to get in touch with a few of our community partners and learn what they have been doing which was not possible after Sandy and the Northeaster that blew through here last week.  We have been partnering with StatenIslandRecovers, part of the massive Occupy movement organized to now provide humanitarian relief.  StatenIslandRecovers is one of the sites initiated to bring in grassroots efforts to help communities get back on their feet and to work with existing community organizations here on the Island..  The Staten Island elected officials have all been working hard to get information out to people post disaster.  Faith groups are doing so much relief work.  In the face of full scale suffering, we are trying every day but the suffering is beyond words to articulate.

Staten Island has entered another phase of relief efforts when demolition started last week in full force.  The Unitarian Church of Staten Island (UCSI) has one major 
site that we funnel donations to.  Please contact Rev. SusanKarlson by e mail at minister@uucsi.org or phone before bringing any donations or mailing them. We have also increasingly transitioned to coordinating donations with our partners, less of a drop off site so it is very important that you call or e mail before coming to the church.  
We are a small church with a small staff to receive donations so we appreciate your understanding of how UCSI can function most effectively given our resources, space and availability.

Currently, relief donations are increasingly transitioning to gift cards.  You can purchase gift cards for 
grocery stores that include Stop and Shop that we have here in $25, 50 and 100's.  We have Costco, no Walmart on Staten Island.
Other helpful gift cards are for gas, target, Lowes and Home Depot and other area stores.  There are some gift cards that have policies for charitable donations. Please check with the individual companies or google charitable giving by gift cards.  Contact Rev. Karlson when you are ready to donate and please e mail the specific
account numbers of each card.  The site we are working with is keeping a record of donations now for accountability. 

The South Shore still needs heavy tools like sledge hammers, crowbars, hammers, rakes, shovels, construction masks, disinfectant, and bleach.  Medical supplies are also needed because of the mold that is building up and people suffering allergies and mold related illnesses.  Then there are those with diabetes or other health conditions that did not have a way to test their glucose levels.  Nebulizers are needed. Cough syrup, aspirin, nasal spray, bactracin and neosporin, bandaids and q tips are a few of the first aid supplies needed.    

We here on Staten Island cannot express our gratitude enough for all the wide community support we are receiving across the country. In this season of giving thanks,
it is so abundantly clear that we are all interconnected in myriad ways.

Blessings and gratitude,
Rev. Susan Karlson

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