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Registries help Sandy victims rebuild lives

Karyn Rabin, left, and Stacy Quinn, right, inside

Karyn Rabin, left, and Stacy Quinn, right, inside the Big City Moms' Biggest Baby Shower in Manhattan. Stacy's home in Long Beach was destroyed by superstorm Sandy. (Nov. 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Jason Andrew

The first time, 23 boxes arrived in Wantagh for Stacy Quinn and the deliveries haven't stopped -- stainless steel pots, a comforter, $200 gift cards, baby toys -- mostly from strangers.

"It's like a bridal shower registry all over again," said Quinn, 31, a publicist.

It's really a Sandy registry.

Quinn is the beneficiary of a Bed Bath & Beyond registry set up by her boss after she and her firefighter husband, the parents of a 5-month-old son, lost almost everything in their flooded Long Beach home in superstorm Sandy.

Her boss Karyn Ravin, founder of Maletzky Media in Manhattan, said friends and clients kept asking what to buy for Quinn, so after getting Quinn's approval, she decided a registry would make it easy.

"They could give directly to someone something that they were going to need, that wasn't necessarily hand-me-downs," Ravin said.

She used Quinn's photos of the mess -- a crock pot filled with sewage and water, a dishwasher holding Sandy-tainted flatware, storm-soiled baby stuff -- as guides for registry items. Ravin said she picked out everything, including what she herself loved.

"I'm going to change your life," Ravin raved to Quinn about listing a hand blender.

The two had no idea the entire registry would be a hit. It got passed on and on by email and Facebook, by Ravin and friends. Of the 95 items, most are marked "fulfilled" -- more than $3,800 in gifts so far.

"It makes you feel so good that strangers you don't even know thought of you," said Quinn, who had cried over the mounds of gifts delivered to her mother's Wantagh home, where her family stayed.

One card was signed by Ravin's "BFF" in Ohio and another from Ravin's Chicago brother, Quinn said, but most started with something like "You don't know me but . . . "

Alison Qualter-Berna, a Manhattan businesswoman who barely knew Quinn but is Ravin's client, said sending steel pots off the registry felt more fruitful than donating to nonprofits, such as the Red Cross.

"That's like direct good," she said, adding that she emailed the registry to more than 5,000 contacts on her Apple Seeds indoor play space business.

Registries' power to tap into a wide audience has made them handy tools for Sandy relief organizers. Donors worried about how charities spend their dollars don't have the same concerns with registries, Sandy registry users said.

Last weekend on's wedding registry, the Sayville Chamber Hurricane Relief went live with requests for Sandy victims.

The Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce is gathering supplies for families."If they want to send us a box full of respirators and shovels, awesome," said Barbara Whitbread, the chamber's marketing director, "because we need them and we don't have to send a volunteer to go out to get them."

With four "Sandy's Wedding Registry" lists on, Occupy Sandy has received hundreds of sleeping bags, scores of pry bars and more than 1,800 blankets.

It's hard to tell how many Sandy registries exist, retail chains said.

"People register for a wide range of events . . . so it is certainly possible that people are using our registry to help friends affected by Sandy," said Vicki Lang, spokeswoman for Crate & Barrel.

For Quinn, Sandy "violated" her home, but the registry spoke for her. Before, when asked what she needed, the storm victim had so much to say she was at a loss for words.

"You don't want to be the person asking, 'Hey I need help. I need this. I need that,' " she said. "It was like, 'Oh my goodness, what am I going to do? I don't even have socks.' "

Quinn has been trying to find empty homes and hotel rooms to give her mother a break. Last week, she lived in her brother's home.

The Sandy victim is not sure if she's going back to her Long Beach home, and she's not sure how she'll thank everyone.

But because of the Sandy registry, no longer is New York the city of impatience, of commuters with angry countenances, Quinn said: "I'm going to change my outlook."

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