It was a belated Christmas for some superstorm Sandy victims and others in difficult circumstances who browsed through piles and racks of donated sweaters, pants, winter coats and other apparel.
About 100 families and individuals attended the clothing giveaway Saturday in the Freeport Armory. The four-hour-long event was organized by Nassau County officials, with clothes and winter coat donations from Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way Inc., the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Toys for Tots.
"There was such need for clothes," said Sandy recovery effort liaison Eden Laikin, assistant to County Executive Edward Mangano, of residents still trying to replace possessions lost to Sandy. "For the most part, these people were not used to charitable services. They were the people helping."
The Nassau Hurricane Recovery Fund raised $140,000 that was distributed to 140 of the more than 1,450 families that applied for grants. About 600 families are still out of their homes, according to informal estimates, Laikin said.
Storm victims like Cathy Corbett, 48, of Island Park, who once helped the needy, now 14 months later needs help herself with clothing and rebuilding. The stay-at-home mother of a 15-year-old and 16-year-old triplets said she's paying $2,000 in rent on top of a $2,010 mortgage for her Sandy-ravaged home that was demolished. She added the $110,000 she received in insurance payments is not enough to rebuild.
"I am here because volunteering keeps me sane," said Corbett, a former vocational rehabilitation counselor, who is on disability.
Corbett took some articles of clothing for herself and her family. "We never needed anything before," she said. "We were always helping people. Our situation is humbling."
When Alejandra Acosta, 41, of Long Beach, lost everything after her first-floor rental apartment was completely flooded, she began to replace all the damaged items, including clothes, household items and furniture.
"I am building my home from scratch again," said Acosta, a house cleaner who attended the event with her 10-year-old daughter and 38-year-old brother. "I am very grateful. It gives me joy that there are people willing to help."
John Curry, 63, of Long Beach, grabbed shirts, pants and socks for himself, as well as toys for his nephew.
"I came over to see what I can get," said Curry, a handyman, who is living with a friend after his mother's Long Beach house still remains without power and heat due to the storm. "It really helps out. It's hard to make ends meet . . ."