STEVENSVILLE - This Thanksgiving, thousands of people across the Mid-Atlantic including families on the Lower Shore of Maryland are still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.
These individuals and families are observing the holiday in cramped homes, makeshift houses and shelters. Many are strapped for cash after costly repairs and recovery and had no plans for a proper Thanksgiving dinner, that is, until Queen Anne's County residents arrived with turkey and all the fixings.
In less than two weeks, a group of Kent Island residents raised nearly $5,000 to buy and deliver Thanksgiving dinners to hundreds of families in Maryland, New Jersey and New York.
Justin Davis, Eddie Hitt, Doug Edmunds and their friends knew they could help when they learned of the difficult situations people would be spending the holidays. They reached out to their Facebook friends to donate what they could to help provide warm meals to those in need and news travels fast. In a few days, thousands of dollars, food, trucks and other donations were raised and almost 200 dinners have been delivered to families.
A convoy of people and refrigerated box truck traveled Saturday to Crisfield, where they had contacted churches to identify the needs of people there.
"We wanted to make sure our donations were going directly to people that needed it the most," Edmunds said. "We don't want this food sitting in a warehouse. People are in need now, and we knew the best way to help was to find out specific needs and go there ourselves."
Though many areas of Crisfield were flooded with three feet of stormwater after Sandy, it was not included in the state disaster declaration until Nov. 20, limiting the amount of federal and private aid sent there. A federal disaster declaration, which would provide FEMA assistance, was pending Wednesday.
"There were people living on the first floor of their homes even though the second story was destroyed in the storm. We delivered dinners to a two-bedroom mobile home with a dozen or more people living in it," Davis said. "All the stuff you see in the newspapers doesn't do it justice until you see it for yourself."
Volunteers distributed almost 100 meals Saturday in Crisfield and on Tuesday drove to Staten Island with another load of 100 Thanksgiving dinners to pass out.
Generosity has continued pouring in and, just before leaving for Staten Island Tuesday morning, organizers were counting up donations that came in overnight and planning their next delivery.
"We put the names of cities and areas that we know were affected by the storm and pull one out of a hat every time we have enough money to deliver another 50 meals," Davis said.
The group will continue helping those in need until donations stop.
"There is still a lot of need in so many areas. It's devastating to see all the destruction and living conditions everywhere we've gone so far, but it's even worse to know these people won't be able to celebrate a normal holiday season," Davis said. "We're going to keep this going as long as we can to help make the season brighter for as many families as we can."
Tax-deductible donations may be made through the Rentals-Donations section of grasonvillecommunitycenter.com. Proof of the charitable donation may be printed after the transaction is complete. For information on how you can help, email Sandra Bradshaw at nursebradshawyahoo.com or call Justin Davis at 410-829-2821.