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Hundreds hurt by Sandy helped for the holidays in Oceanside
After superstorm Sandy devastated Long Island’s South Shore, John Matthews and his family were forced to move out of their home on Kings Highway in Oceanside.
After their two-story house was submerged in 9 feet of water, Matthews took his wife and their 10-month-old daughter to live in his parent’s basement in East Rockaway.
So on Saturday, when Oceanside Community Service handed out free food, toys and clothing to hundreds of local residents who lost their homes and property during the storm, Matthews was grateful to have help this holiday season.
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“We lost everything in our house. Everything went underwater,” said Matthews, 44. “It’s nice to see other people helping out, especially around the holidays.”
Oceanside High School was transformed into Santa’s workshop on Saturday as donations came in from across the country to help Oceanside residents get the toys and gifts they could no longer afford.
“It shows that Oceanside stays with Oceanside,” said Bob Transom, the president of Oceanside Community Service. “We’re a very close-knit family here.”
Most years, Oceanside Community Service brings food to about 200 local families in need. This year the organization expected to help more than 600 families struggling to recover from the storm which devastated Long Island.
“It’s a beautiful thing. It’s unexpected,” said Anthony Mannino, 47, of Oceanside, as he picked out toys in the school gymnasium. “It’s bringing the community together.”
Each family was allowed to choose several gifts per child, and older children were given $30 gift cards to Kohl’s for winter clothing. More than 200 student and faculty members from the high school volunteered as elves to help parents pick out toys for their children.
“We’re here to help them,” said Susanne Murphy, the director of operations and coordinating events for Oceanside Community Service. “It’s like putting an arm around this community. This community is very strong and they will get through this.”