Relief drive goes viral
Krissy Wood joked last week her house looked like an episode of the TV show Hoarders.
And a visitor would have trouble even reaching the doorbell, having to dodge large black plastic trash bags, shopping bags and boxes bursting at the seams jammed on the front porch.
Indoors wasn't much different with walking space — let alone sitting down space — at a premium.
Except this wasn't junk or a hobby gone nuclear. These bags, boxes and crates were full of donations for people left virtually homeless by Hurricane Sandy on Long Island.
There was enough stuff to fill a moving van and several minivans and SUVs when it was all delivered last Saturday.
The collection-gone-viral was a testament as much to the generosity of Wiltonians as it was to the efficacy of social media.
Ms. Wood, who lives on Danbury Road with her husband, Chris, and children Jack, 14, Ryan, 11, and Meghan, 8, powered up their generator when they lost power during the storm, and because they have Direct TV were able to watch as the devastation unfolded. "At one point we had 22 people here," she said. Her home was open to many during the prolonged power outage.
A few days after the storm departed Ms. Wood heard from Jeanine Hussey, a first grade teacher who said she was starting a collection at Miller-Driscoll School. Ms. Hussey had family and friends who lost their homes in Breezy Point and Long Beach, Long Island.
"Their homes were just wiped away," Ms. Wood said. Ms. Hussey asked Ms. Wood if she would help spread the word.
Did she ever. Ms. Wood emailed about 220 people that Sunday night, Nov. 4.
"By noon on Monday you couldn't walk in my dining room," she said. "My husband said, 'We need a truck.'"
That prayer was answered by Affordable Self-Storage in Norwalk, which supplied boxes and a moving truck.
Word got around, and soon the Village Market donated items and the owners of Scoops offered their shop as a drop-off location.
The Children's Day School of Wilton also picked up the mantle and made daily deliveries to Ms. Wood's house.
Idelle Management of Wilton donated boxes of toiletries, and the community of Candlewood Isle in New Fairfield heard of the effort and sent two truckloads of goods.
Kathy Drake, a yoga teacher, emailed her clients, and Stacy Holmen, who runs a clothing business from her home, emailed 400 more people.
"Since then my house has been a revolving door," Ms. Wood said last week. "The response from the town has been exactly what I expected. It reminded me of why I live here."
During an hour last Friday, at least three women stopped by with boxes and bags of goods.
In addition to the truck, six mothers and fathers driving minivans or SUVs on Saturday, Nov. 10, drove everything to a shelter in Long Beach.
The collection has been vast: toiletries, first aid kits, school supplies, coats, blankets, towels, bedding, cooking supplies, flashlights, batteries, headlamps, diapers, baby powder, baby wipes, non-perishable foods, food containers, toys, backpacks, pet items, suitcases, cleaning supplies, paper goods, sleeping bags, and more.
Last Friday, Ms. Wood's son Jack sorted items with Carol Rowe and her daughter Kiely.
"If I ask for help sorting people will be here in an hour," said Ms. Wood, who runs a day care center at her home.
Ms. Wood said the response was also a testament to how people feel about Ms. Hussey.
"So many people have had her as a teacher for their children," she said. "Once her name was attached to it ... people couldn't get here fast enough."
Although the deliveries have been made, Ms. Wood knows the needs on Long Island will be long-lasting, and she hopes to continue her collection efforts. With another delivery in the future, she is seeking a solution to the storage issue. In the meantime, if people wish to donate, they may email Ms. Wood at email@example.com.