Church launches donation drive to help Staten Island

Stuff the Bus

PHOTO (left to right): Ricardo Matamores, Josh Cuebas, Jeremy Rivera, and Alayna Cuebas arrive in Staten Island to deliver donations.

For one Lancaster family, the tragic loss of a friend in New York turned into a church-hosted donation drive and a small trailer full of supplies headed for Staten Island. Now two area churches have united to collect and deliver items that will keep desperate Staten Islanders warm and clean, keep cleanup workers equipped, and provide infants with needed nutrition. Thanks to a local bus company, they’ll be bringing more. A lot more.

“Companies get asked frequently, especially after a storm like this one,” says Mike Kramer, president of Shultz Transportation. “When we found out that Alex and his church had done it once, the right way; we decided to change it from ‘stuff the minivan’ to ‘stuff the school bus’.”

Covenant UMC in Lancaster, and Boehms UMC in Willow Street will open their doors to receive donations this Friday through Sunday. They welcome shovels (flat), work gloves, infant formula, diapers, baby wipes, toiletries (especially toilet paper), blankets, and socks. They also welcome monetary gifts which will be used to purchase more supplies and tools.

The idea began in tragedy: A New York relative of Lancaster resident Alex Cuebas awoke in a freezing-cold bed the morning after Hurricane Sandy struck New York to wake her mother, discovering that she had died in the cold. “That hit me hard,” says Cuebas, “I know that place. My family is there and New York is in my veins. I had to do something and do it quick. I didn’t want that to happen to anybody else’s family!”

A licensed CDL driver by trade, Cuebas was no stranger to getting goods to numerous places in New York. He made contact with Staten Island Assemblyman Mike Cusick, who was receiving and distributing items to his district. Cusick advised him of needs on a daily basis, changing as the situation changed. A local U-Haul dealer cut a deal on trailer rental. Alex recruited his friend Kevin Kresge, secured permission from his church (Covenant UMC) to host a donation-staging area, and put out a Facebook and e-mail appeal to everyone he knew. Over three days the piles of warm clothes, blankets, and hygiene supplies came in. After Sunday worship they packed up a rented Uhaul trailer, grabbed a few volunteers, delivered the donations and returned home that night.

“We weren’t allowed near the disaster areas, but we didn’t need to go there. The relief efforts are being staged in areas that have electricity and heat. Signs of the destruction and need are everywhere, though. Once we got there we were told of the extent of it and the lack of supplies. They called me Monday and asked if we could do it again. How could I say no?”

Pastor Eden and his family had donated to the first trip, then called about helping for the second. “Our church had been gearing up for some sort of relief support since before the storm hit, waiting on a clear call to act. Alex’s determination couldn’t have been any more clear of a call. It was an easy decision for me and the chair of missions at Boehms.”

Items needed are:

  • Flat shovels, Work Gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Blankets
  • Socks (all sizes)
  • Toiletries, new
  • Baby formula, Baby food, Diapers, Baby wipes

Monetary donations are accepted: Checks can be written out to Boehms UMC with the note “Hurricane Relief”. All monetary donations received Friday or Saturday will be used to purchase items in bulk. Moneys received Sunday morning will be sent directly to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (www.umcor.org), earmarked for Hurricane Sandy relief.

Covenant UMC Collections:
110 N Mulberry Street
Lancaster
(intersection of Orange and Mulberry Streets)
Friday  6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
717-393-1561  –  www.covenant-umc.com

Boehms UMC Collections:
13 W. Boehms Road
Willow Street
(just south of Kendig Square on U.S. Route 222)
Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
717-464-4885 – www.boehmsumc.org

Don't bring a minivan to a flood fight