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Sandy victims gather items for those hit by South Carolina floods

East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School’s Builders Club collected

East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School’s Builders Club collected cleaning supplies, bedding, children’s items, paper supplies and non-perishable food items and water for South Carolina flood victims and loaded the items into a tractor trailer on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

Theresa Gaffney lost her East Rockaway home to superstorm Sandy. Saturday morning, she and her 7-year-old son, John, were among about 100 volunteers packing up and loading donations for victims of recent South Carolina floods.

"We know what they're going through and we all feel it," said Gaffney, 36. "Everyone wants to help."

A 53-foot-long tractor trailer two-thirds full with donations left Long Island late Saturday afternoon for South Carolina, said MaryKate Lynch, an organizer of the collection effort. Fundraisers also collected nearly $4,200 for gift cards, she said.

Lynch and other East Rockaway residents started planning the donation drive after they saw the images of flooded homes and washed-out roads in South Carolina.

"We jumped into action to see how we could help because we got so much help," said Dan Caracciolo, 35, another organizer.

Caracciolo pulled out his cellphone and scrolled through photos of clothes, water, shoes, coats and other items people nationwide donated to Sandy victims.

Organizers called one of the volunteers from 2013, Chelsea Crocker, for suggestions on what donations to collect. They knew that in the aftermath of Sandy, there was plenty of clothing, but not enough items such as toothpaste and other toiletries, so they emphasized that along with items such as cleaning supplies and pet food.

Crocker lives in Lexington, South Carolina, hit by severe flooding. She said she was touched by the Long Island donations. "I think it's cool that people who have been through the same experience losing their material possessions are willing to give," she said.

Don Poland, a social studies teacher at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School who helped organize the collection drive in front of the school, recalled how students came together in 2013 -- a few weeks after the school reopened after six months of closure due to Sandy -- to raise money for victims of the deadly Moore, Oklahoma, tornado.

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