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The Story Behind the Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive...Part One.

POSTED December 01, 2012
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: It started because it hurt.
It hurt to watch what the effects of Hurricane Sandy had done to parts of an area that I spent a great deal of time in around during my own youth.
On October 29, 2012, the East Coast was rocked by a storm that made a left.
In my lifetime, storms never did that, they might have come up the coast on a rare occasion as they did with Gloria in 1985 and Irene just a year ago but storms around here have been following a familiar pattern as long as I can recall.
Hurricanes went inland near the Carolina’s or Florida but not in New Jersey or New York.
But we all know the story by now and have seen the devastation left from a storm surge that in some places had the ocean meeting the bay, never a good thing.
I know from some of the places simply destroyed by this monster storm that raged for days bringing a Hurricane, a tropical system and a blizzard in one horrific shot.
Seeing pictures from the Jersey Shore hit close to home. The bridge that took you from the mainland to the beach area in Mantoloking, New Jersey was one my family took dozens of times on our way to and from the Ocean Beach area. It was cut in half at the shoreline and will take months if not years to replace.
I can easily remember walking from the ocean to the bay if we felt like switching from riding the waves to taking a swim in the bay.
When I heard the ocean met the bay, I knew that wasn’t a long distance for the water to travel and with the power of a hurricane behind it, understood the damage would be beyond comprehension as it was.
So after seeing what had happened, the question came up. 
What can we do? It’s the same feeling so many people had after the attacks on 9-11. 
We wanted to race to New York City and help but what could we do?
Millions gave money to organizations like the Red Cross to help but it felt like you wanted to something more tangible, personal.
So after Sandy, it was time to make something happen, I felt it was my responsibility to do something.
After all, we have this media company, Litchfield County Sports.com and all the connections that go with it.
I felt the good people of Torrington would do what they always do; come through when needed.
So I called Sander Stotland of the Torrington Titans and floated the idea of being the drop-of location for a Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive.
The idea hatched on Monday, by Tuesday morning the word spreading machine that is Litchfield County Sports was in full swing.

TORRINGTON: It started because it hurt.

It hurt to watch what the effects of Hurricane Sandy had done to parts of an area that I spent a great deal of time in and around during my own youth.

On October 29, 2012, the East Coast was rocked by a storm that made a left.

In my lifetime, storms never did that, they might have come up the coast on a rare occasion as they did with Gloria in 1985 and Irene just a year ago but storms around here have been following a familiar pattern as long as I can recall.

Hurricanes went inland near the Carolina’s or Florida but not in New Jersey or New York.

But we all know the story by now and have seen the devastation left from a storm surge that in some places had the ocean meeting the bay, never a good thing.

I know from some of the places simply destroyed by this monster storm that raged for days bringing a Hurricane, a tropical system and a blizzard in one horrific shot.

Seeing pictures from the Jersey Shore hit close to home.

The bridge that took you from the mainland to the beach area in Mantoloking, New Jersey was one my family took dozens of times on our way to and from the Ocean Beach area.

It was cut in half at the shoreline and will take months if not years to replace.

I can easily remember walking from the ocean to the bay if we felt like switching from riding the waves to taking a swim in the bay.

When I heard the ocean met the bay, I knew that wasn’t a long distance for the water to travel and with the power of a hurricane behind it, understood the damage would be beyond comprehension as it was.

So after seeing what had happened, the question came up. 

What can we do?

It’s the same feeling so many people had after the attacks on 9-11. 

We wanted to race to New York City and help but what could we do?

Millions gave money to organizations like the Red Cross to help but it felt like you wanted to something more tangible, personal.

So after Sandy, it was time to make something happen, I felt it was my responsibility to do something.

After all, we have this media company, Litchfield County Sports.com and all the connections that go with it.

I felt the good people of Torrington would do what they always do; come through when needed.

So I called Sander Stotland of the Torrington Titans and floated the idea of being the drop-of location for a Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive.

The idea hatched on Monday, by Tuesday morning the word spreading machine that is Litchfield County Sports was in full swing.

It has always been my belief that people are usually looking to do the right thing, they just need an outlet to do so.

The Drive was scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday, November 8 and 9.

Word spread with the help of our good friends at WZBG who put together a public service announcement that ran mornings and afternoons.

WAPJ in Torrington, where we broadcast our “Litchfield County Sports” radio program, got word out as well during live programs throughout the week.

On Tuesday though, word of a potential Nor’Easter was taking center stage.

The storm was due to hit on Wednesday afternoon and night and while anything near Sandy-like, was more than anyone effected needed to hear.

Nevertheless, it was time to get the supplies in the works.

I called our good friend Tony Turina from Tony’s Coffee Express and told him what we were doing and his fast answer was, “What can I do to help?”

I made my way to a K-Mart I service with my day job at Frito-Lay and got a great deal on 24-packs of water so I bought 20.

Turina pitched in for 10 of those and we were off and running.

Meanwhile, I had spread word around Frito about the drive and the response was what I expected.

“What can we do to help?”

Like I said, people just need a reason to do the right thing.

We didn’t need the forecast of the storm but we were set to roll Wednesday night.

Stotland and some of his Titans volunteers manned the store on Wednesday after making it in through a storm that didn’t turn out to be so bad.

The areas deserved and got a break this time around but it made for a slow start to the drive.

It was a lousy weather day on Thursday with drizzle and slippery conditions but folks started to drift in.

John Nestor from LCS, dropped off a haul of donations and stayed with the drive for hours, a great job by Mr. Nestor, someone always looking to help.
A visit by one of my good friends, Jim Shannon of the Waterbury Republican helped get the word out in their Friday addition with a picture and instructions on how to help.
Day one saw us collect 10-12 boxes of clothing, more water and 5 boxes of food.
Even on a slow day though, how much people wanted to help came through in a big way.
Several people, including Torrington Park and Recreation Chairperson, Patty Fairchild dropped off donations day one and returned after shopping again on Friday with more.
People just wanted to help.
Kim Raimondi, a mainstay in Titan land, organized the donations, labeled the boxes and did what she always does.
She came through.

We went on the “The X Factor” Thursday night with host Art Benedict to talk about how things were going and to thank those who had come out while spreading the word about Friday.
When Stotland and I left Thursday night, we felt it was a good start but one effected by the weather.
I had faith day two would be better.
End Part One.

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