2013-05-24 / Top Stories

Locals Help Oklahoma Tornado Victims

By Katie McFadden

After receiving help from numerous groups from across the country after Hurricane Sandy, Rockaway is paying it forward. Several groups have organized to provide donations for the victims of the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma.

A massive, mile-wide tornado with gusts over 200 mph ripped through Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, May 20th. The EF5 storm destroyed several buildings including two elementary schools and killed dozens of people, including children.

Rockaway knows firsthand, what it’s like to go through a natural disaster. Rockaway also knows the generosity of strangers from across the country after receiving continuous help from volunteer groups. Now, some in Rockaway are paying it forward.

The Rockaway Weekly Free Flea Market, initially set up to assist the peninsula after Sandy, has become a drop off point for supplies that are being sent to Oklahoma by a relief truck. Flea Market organizers, including Marissa Bernowitz, are collecting donations at 112-22 Rockaway Beach Boulevard every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.

They are looking for items such as blankets, batteries, flashlights, nonperishable individually wrapped snacks, sleeping bags, first aid supplies, rakes, shovels, contractor bags, work gloves, hand sanitizer, diapers, wipes, hand towels, new and used underclothes (socks, bras, underwear) and more. The donations are being transported to relief trucks that are making trips to Oklahoma from New Jersey and Staten Island.

Operation Kid Comfort, a group started by Maura Buckley, Matt Piccione and the Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department to provide comfort to victims of natural disasters and tragic times, is also collecting donations which will be transported to Oklahoma. They have several members collecting donations in Breezy Point, Roxbury, Brooklyn and New Jersey. For more information, check out “Operation Kid Comfort” on Facebook.

The Knights of Columbus Rockaway Council 2672 got in touch with Grand Knight Charles Blackburn from Council #9901 of the St. Andrew Parish in Moore, Oklahoma and has started a collection for the Moore KOC group to help victims. Visit http://www.knightsofrockaway.com and click “Donate Now” to support their efforts.

Team Rubicon, a group of military veterans and first responders, was another group that helped out in Rockaway in the days after Sandy. They deployed teams to Oklahoma the day after the tornado. Donations can be made by visiting teamrubiconusa.org/donate/. Resident Kathleen McHugh started a personal fundraiser for Rockaway residents to donate to Team Rubicon as part of Operation: Starting Gun. McHugh’s donation link can be found at fundraise.teamrubiconusa.org/events/o peration-starting-gun/e25140.

Volunteer group Operation Blessing, a big helper in Breezy Point and parts of Rockaway, also has teams in Oklahoma. You can text BLESS to 50555 to give $10 to Operation Blessing International to help tornado victims or visit http://www.operationblessing.org/.

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