Mid-Ohio Valley residents are helping New Yorkers in need.
Last Saturday, two tour buses on separate trips from the Parkersburg area delivered much-needed supplies to New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Lisa Collins of Belpre, owner and operator of Arts & Culture Tours LLC, led a group of 50 people on a weekend excursion of shopping and sightseeing in New York City. Before she left Parkersburg, Collins put out the word on Facebook that new underwear was needed for Sandy victims.
Collins was able to collect 500 pairs of underwear for children and adults and deliver them to the Bowery Mission in Lower Manhattan, which helps the homeless and hungry. The New Yorkers were surprised and grateful to receive the underwear, Collins said.
"They kept asking me, 'who are you again? Why are you doing this for us?'" Collins said.
"It was really a cool experience and a good indication that people in this valley are extremely generous, as always," Collins said.
Collins got the idea to deliver goods to Sandy victims from a relief effort led by Kristi Casto of Ripley. Collins and Casto were classmates at Ravenswood High School.
Casto, David Hornbeck of Parkersburg and the Silverton Grange were determined to fill a bus with cleaning supplies and other items for distressed New York residents.
"I was hoping for a few things," Casto said. She received much more.
Their bus was loaded with seven huge tubs filled with toiletries, bleach, coats, gloves, scrub brushes, flashlights, batteries, cat and dog food, backpacks, notebooks, duffel bags, quilts made by a local church and other items. Casto said there was no room in the bus's storage compartment to transport the used clothing that was donated. That will be delivered on another trip to New York City, she said.
A local soldier serving in Afghanistan donated $100 and an anonymous donor provided a Wal-Mart gift card.
"People were so creative," Casto said. "It was an outpouring of love."
Women of the Silverton Grange in Jackson County gathered some of the items and brought them to the Grange Hall, where youth loaded them onto the tour bus.
The "red eye" trip with 54 people aboard left Jackson County at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, with stops in Ravenswood, Parkersburg and Shinnston to collect people and donations.
A truck was waiting for the bus when it arrived at the New York Marriott Marquis in the Broadway theater district at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The donations were taken to the Salvation Army and the Bowery Mission to assist residents of the New York metropolitan area, Casto said.
Casto and Collins talked briefly in the city.
Casto's tour group spent the day in New York City before leaving at 11 p.m. Saturday.
"It was a journey full of blessings," Casto said.
Belpre native Tamara Schrader, who lives in the New York City borough of Queens, has joined friends and others to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. Schrader, a choreographer/performer based in New York, entertained children at a Thanksgiving fundraiser/dinner for families at a school in Far Rockaway, N.Y., about a 25-minute drive from her home. That area of Queens looks like a war zone, Schrader said, with buildings and homes flattened and residents left without heat or electricity. "I can't believe water and wind could do this," she said. "It's devastating." Schrader said she has remained busy with her work at special events despite Sandy, even arriving at a venue lighted by a generator in an otherwise all-dark Lower Manhattan.
The Camden Clark Foundation's third annual charity gala will bring Southern elegance to the Parkersburg Country Club at 7 p.m. Dec. 1. The black tie optional "Mistletoe & Magnolias" will feature Southern cuisine, a silent auction, dancing, carriage rides, and entertainment by singer Laura Evans & Co. Proceeds go to the Camden Clark Diabetes Education and Wellness Fund. Call the foundation at 304 424-2200 for tickets.
Contact Paul LaPann at email@example.com