Unprecedented. Record-breaking. Overwhelming. Unbelievable. Many of these words were used to describe the predicted disaster and the tumult that would be inflicted on our area by Hurricane Sandy. And, sadly, Sandy did not disappoint. Many more choice words would be used to describe her, after she progressed on her destructive trail, charging through our communities, neighbors, loved ones and friends.
An unwelcome guest at homes on our shorelines, an unkind entity visiting our beaches. She was the archenemy to people everywhere – people still dealing with loss of life, property, utilities, belongings, and for some, loss of hope. All over South Jersey, there are families still struggling to clothe their children, to keep them warm, to keep food in their bellies.
But something happened in all the carnage, loss, and devastation – it moved people to the core; it motivated each one of us to do more. Families that didn’t feel the impact as significantly wanted to show their gratitude and offer strength. It spawned acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion, and brought people together toward a mission to lend a hand.
Specifically, our neighbors in Atlantic and Ocean counties needed that kind of help. The force of nature that created Hurricane Sandy was no match for the large and powerful force of the human spirit of giving. The Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, its agencies, numerous synagogues and hundreds of residents banded together as a unified and formidable front, and launched the Hurricane Sandy Relief Project. Within just a couple of weeks, volunteers, staff from every Jewish Federation agency, multitudes of synagogue congregants and families of every background collected and donated warm outerwear and food provisions at our Cherry Hill offices. And, that was just the beginning.
On a Sunday, November 18th, drivers were assembled, volunteers sorted and boxed items, and lines of cars caravanned and delivered the donations, en masse, to residents of Atlantic County. The bags of outerwear, the boxes of food, the monetary gifts, the supermarket gift cards – each made a distinct difference to our friends that were affected by Sandy’s wrath. While there were many words to describe Sandy’s destruction, it could be said that some of the very same words described the efforts to erase her impact: Unprecedented. Overwhelming.
Hope is one thing that is bigger than any natural disaster, any obstacle, any mountain that looks too big to climb. While Sandy took away things we cherished, she couldn’t match the power of hope. The sense of shared commitment that washed over our agencies and communities was far stronger and will last much longer than any waves brought by a hurricane.
We will continue to help into the future, as long as it takes. We will push forward with our relief efforts until the relief is no longer needed. And with a community as strong as ours, we can bring hope and help and strength, in numbers. We thank you for supporting these efforts, and welcome you to join us if you haven’t already. For more information, please log onto http://www.jewishsouthjersey.org, and click on Hurricane Sandy Relief Project to donate or become a volunteer, or you may call 856-751- 9500, xt. 3035.