2013-02-22 / Community

Rockaway Teen Finds ‘Silver Lining’ in Sandy

By Katie McFadden

Fourteen year old Ariel Creamer, herself a Sandy survivor, started the “Survivors Silver Lining” project to help others. Photo by Katie McFadden Fourteen year old Ariel Creamer, herself a Sandy survivor, started the “Survivors Silver Lining” project to help others. Photo by Katie McFadden When Rockaway resident Ariel Creamer came back home after evacuating for Hurricane Sandy, what she discovered was a “completely devastating” scenario that not even movies could portray.

She came home to neighborhood where many had lost their homes and possessions. However she also came home to a community of survivors and at just 14-yearsold, Creamer was determined to show residents the “silver lining” of this dark time.

The Scholars Academy student finally returned to school when it reopened a few weeks ago and when her life started to become a bit more normal, she decided to bring some normalcy to others.

“I knew I wanted to help everyone here,” Creamer said. She came up with an idea for a Facebook page which she utilizes to match Sandy survivors who lost so much with those who are willing to give.

She stayed up until 2 A.M. creating the page for her project, “Survivors Silver Lining.”

With the project, Creamer started “replacing things that people lost which they can’t replace on their own without help,” she said. “They’re already going through so much.”

Creamer was partly inspired by Michael “Sandy Claus” Sciaraffo, who came to her house to give her and her siblings presents for Christmas. When he found out about Creamer’s plan “he was completely blown away and started helping,” she said.

Sciaraffo helped her spread the word about the page and brought her truckloads of donations to give to those in need.

In just three weeks, the page already has more than 460 “Likes” and people from across the region are asking for her help. In addition to residents in Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point, Sandy survivors in Staten Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey are reaching out to her.

“Everybody needs help. I just try to help as many people as I can,” Creamer said.

Within the first few weeks of her “Survivors Silver Lining” project, Creamer has been able to get donations to 10 people.

The first survivor she helped was a 9- year-old boy whose Belle Harbor home burned down. He lost everything, but he missed his Lego collection the most. Within a few hours of sharing his story on the page, she had several people who were willing to donate Legos and she replaced his collection in no time.

Her next survivor was a 15-year-old Rockaway boy who lost everything when his house flooded with five feet of water. On the night of Sandy, he had to swim out of his house with his mother a dog and they’re still displaced.

The anonymous boy lost his XBOX and video games, as well as a DVD player and several DVDs. Within a few days, Creamer was able to get the things that he wanted, including the XBOX, which someone bought.

As the bridge between donors and those who need help, Creamer collects the donations at her home where the survivors then come to meet the young girl and pick up the items.

“Everyone is very appreciative. I’ve never felt so amazing helping people before,” Creamer said.

Those who have donated include people from as far as Texas, Alaska and California, however they also include Sandy survivors themselves.

Broad Channel resident Eve Colombo donated a brand new DVD player to the “anonymous” boy. Colombo lost many of her own belongings during the storm, but she happened to have a DVD player that she was looking to give away.

“In the midst of this mess it’s heartening to see the number of people trying to help, and I wanted to be sure that I did something for her to encourage her to continue,” Colombo said. “If we ALL learned to ‘do what you can, when you can, however you can’ the world would be a much better place.”

Those who have received donations could not be more grateful and impressed with the 14-year-old’s efforts.

“I think it’s incredible that a child would go to such lengths to make others feel as normal as possible,” a Rockaway resident who chose to remain anonymous said. “She’s doing this without asking for anything in return which is really incredible. She’s just one of the unsung heroes of this tragedy.”

Creamer’s mother, Lorie agrees. “She blows me away.

I’m very impressed by her drive and ambition. There aren’t words to describe how proud I am.”

The 14-year-old has no plans to stop soon. She’ll continue her Survivors Silver Lining project “as long as people need it.”

“I know my goal is getting there and it’s really helping everyone in Rockaway,” Creamer said. “It’s amazing to really put normalcy back into people’s lives.”

While Creamer has been successful so far, she hopes that more people will become aware of her project so that she can continue to help families and receive donations. Visit the “Survivors Silver Lining” page on Facebook to follow Creamer’s progress, request her help or to become a donor. She can also be contacted at Survivors.Silver.Lining1@gmail.com.

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