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Drive nets supplies by the truckload for Sandy victims

By: David Wallace | Farmington Press | Published December 11, 2012

FARMINGTON HILLS — The community donated an impressive amount of supplies, money and encouragement to people in New Jersey recovering from the damage that Superstorm Sandy wrought.

Barbara Foley, a licensed psychologist in Farmington Hills with roots in New Jersey’s Ocean County, organized a drive to collect as many helpful items as possible to send to the devastated area.

The drive ended Nov. 30. In all, the community contributed $4,100 in cash, $911 in gift cards and enough supplies to fill three trucks. As of last week, two truckloads had made their way to Ocean County for distribution, and Foley hoped to find a third trucking company or trucker who could donate their services for the third load.

People donated thousands of cans of food, plus paper goods, cleaning supplies, baby items, toothpaste, toothbrushes, cat food, dog food, 40 bags of kitty litter, 40 pairs of new boots and about 600 pairs of used boots. She also received a great amount of sweaters and more than 600 coats.

“People were wonderfully generous,” she said. “These are gently used, lovingly used, coats.”

She said one child donated a box of stuffed animals and included a note that the animals had been well-loved. Community members often wrote words of encouragement that accompanied their donations, and many tucked Bibles and prayer books in with the supplies.

People also put their shopping know-how to good use. Foley recounted that one woman donated 15-20 boxes of new items.

“Each one of the tags said ‘with love from Michigan’ on it,” she said. “She hit the clearance racks and bought a lot of items.”

The effort included people from all walks of life and crossed a lot of local borders.

“I had people who were coming up from the Riverview area,” Foley said.

The drive was a lot of work — imagine organizing three truckloads of supplies and coordinating with agencies in New Jersey for their delivery — but also rewarding, she said.

Foley observed that “people gave what they felt that they could, and then some.”

Farmington Hills opened its City Hall as a collection point. Diane Bauman, the Farmington Public Schools director of school and community relations, volunteered to collect gift cards.

“We were just helping to spread the word for her,” Bauman said.

Foley found that local residents were willing to do something for people almost 900 miles away; all they needed was someone to ask for their help.

“I would say that pleasantly surprised me,” Foley said. “It’s been very rewarding. I will continue to do this on my own and ship things back.”

She said that Ocean County Hunger Relief has served as the central distribution point for the supplies, and then multiple religious organizations made sure the donations got to the people. She also sought out local police to distribute the money, gift cards and items.

Anyone willing to take the third load of supplies to New Jersey for no charge should call Barbara Foley at (248) 626-8899. She estimated that a 16-foot truck, and possibly smaller, could accommodate the load.