Former NYC, NJ Rochesterians come together to Help Sandy victims

Here is my column that appeared online in this week’s D&C, plus a little bit more that was shaved off. I’m still thinking of all of you in Staten Island, Queens, and on the Shore

When Anderson Cooper shows up to cover a natural disaster in your old neighborhood, it must be bad. The CNN correspondent who was on the ground reporting the likes of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the earthquake in Haiti walked the streets of my Staten Island childhood.  He put the spotlight on the remains of bungalow homes that lined the quiet streets where I rode my bicycle.  He interviewed people as they shivered waiting to sign up for FEMA assistance in a field where my brother played soccer.

For me and many other Rochesterians with ties to downstate New York and New Jersey, to say that Sandy hit home is a huge understatement. Carole Diamond Frankel of Brighton also took in the scenes of her devastated hometowns of Oceanside and Long Beach with a heavy heart. She wished she could physically be there to help but did what she could from afar.

“I can’t stop thinking about it,” she said, as she kept updated with friends through Facebook and email. Within days, she coordinated her own collections of clothing and supplies, which she then drove to the Sea Breeze Volunteer Fire Association in Irondequoit. Her collection melded into the hundreds of bags and boxes of other donations given from the Rochester community.

I want to personally thank this organization, especially April Handel, the associations’ president, and volunteer Garrett Bastuk. They drove a 26-foot truck to affected sections of New York. One such collection center is hosted by a Staten Island church where I had fond memories of making “Shrinky-Dink” key chains and other crafts in a summer day camp program. This relief center is so close to my parents’ home that they recently walked there to pick up batteries for their flashlights and bleach to clean out their flooded basement.

Another group of families from Brighton and Pittsford with downstate roots have also banded together to help with a bagel breakfast fundraiser called “Sand-Aid” taking place this Sunday, Nov. 18.  For a donation of $15, patrons will be treated this Sunday morning to Bruegger’s
Bagels, cream cheese, fruit and the Sunday’s Democrat & Chronicle to be picked up in Pittsford Plaza. For $20, breakfast will be delivered within a 10-mile radius of Pittsford Plaza. All funds will be donated to The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. This is a 501(c)(3)  not-for-profit organization giving long and short-term hurricane relief and restoration to the worst affected areas.

“My cousin in Hoboken jokes that he now has two pools: one in his basement and one that used to be his backyard,” said Pittsford’s Phil Schaff, whose three children have actively publicized the fundraiser.  Schaff’s  parents, both in their 80’s, have also endured days with no power or heat in East Brunswick, N.J.

The fundraiser generated such a large response that there may be a second Sand-Aid bagel breakfast in the near future.  If you would like to have a Sunday bagel breakfast delivered to you as a thanks for contributing to Sandy relief, please email  to be included.

Disasters like Sandy magnify the significance of Thanksgiving. It is not about Black Friday shopping or football games but gratitude for life’s most basic comforts of a warm home and supportive circles of family, friends, and neighbors. In this spirit of coming together, the Victor Parks and Recreation Department has planned its annual Senior Thanksgiving potluck lunch for noon on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at the Victor Parks and Recreation building, 1290 Blossom Drive. For more information, go to or call 742-0140

Contact Stacy Gittleman at with news and notable people from eastside towns.

If You Go

What: Town of Victor Senior Potluck Luncheon

When: noon Wednesday, Nov. 21

Where: Victor Parks and Recreation building, 1290 Blossom Drive, Victor

Information: $1 fee. Bring a dish to pass. To register with the dish you are bringing to pass, go to or call 742-0140

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

2 responses to “Former NYC, NJ Rochesterians come together to Help Sandy victims”

  1. renée a. schuls-jacobson says :

    It’s also Daphne Cohen’s birthday: a selfless way to spend one’s day, helping others in need. I hope the event gets lots of support!


    • transplantednorth says :

      so proud of these families helping out from far away. I hope to start up a mission to go to Staten Island this spring or summer to help rebuild. How do I go about doing that??


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