Truckloads of donations destined for the New Jersey shore were collected at two city sites Saturday to aid victims and residents who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy that hit the coast on Oct. 29.
The drive for clothes, food, water, toiletries and other necessities was organized by Lycoming College graduates and friends Nicole Caucino and Lara Collins Breon. The duo was assisted by Nicole Patterson, also a Lycoming graduate and New Jersey native, Jim Riedel and Harold Marks III.
Items were dropped off, sorted and packed at the American Red Cross parking lot, 320 E. Third St., and the Novitas Solutions parking lot at the corner of William and Church streets.
Caucino a 2005 Lycoming College graduate originally from Toms River, N.J., said the area is making progress with electricity returning to many areas, but there is still a need for basic items.
Some areas have been inaccessible since being evacuated before the storm surge hit.
"It's going to take a long time," she said.
Eleanor Derr, of Williamsport, dropped off some cleaning supplies and candy. She said she grew up in New Jersey and wanted to help.
Breon said a casual Facebook conversation with Caucino turned into an effort to gather donations for storm victims.
"When the hurricane hit, I had to do something," said Caucino, who now resides in Maryland.
She said the Subaru dealership at which she works gave her a trailer to haul donations directly to the Toms River area.
"You fill it, I'll drive it," Caucino said she told Breon.
She said it's nice that people are donating much- needed items now, but "I think the take away is: don't wait for a disaster."
Goods will be distributed at local retail establishments in the Toms River area, according to Caucino. Anything that doesn't fit in the two trailers headed to New Jersey will be distributed to local charities, she added.
Caucino said Lycoming College gave a $300 donation, and an unidentified family presented a $500 check Saturday at the Red Cross parking lot.
"It has exceptionally grown beyond my expectations," she said of the effort's success.