LEWISTOWN - While Mifflin County avoided the brunt of the damage from Hurricane Sandy last week, the need for assistance grew in coastal areas of New York and New Jersey where floodwaters inundated cities and cut power to their residents.
Ernie Solt, organizer of local Night of Worship events, said hearing of storm losses from long-time friends and watching the devastation unravel on TV is what led him to pull together a county-wide food drive to benefit storm victims.
"It kind of gets to you when you know your friends are sleeping in the cold tonight," he said. "It's not 'somebody,' it's somebody you know."
Three local churches are teaming up with Lewistown Hospital, the Mifflin County Courthouse and the Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation to collect and deliver non-perishable food items and other supplies to Christian ministries in cities affected by the hurricane.
Bill Cash, representative of the Southern Ocean County Community Resource Center, said help is needed to provide shelter to those who have lost homes with hot meals, clothing and portable shower facilities.
He said community members wishing to donate to the cause are asked to send:
Non-perishable food items;
Baby items - disposable diapers, Similac and baby food;
New, unused five-gallon plastic gas cans;
Personal care items - toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes DRIVE and toiletries;
Hand sanitizers and hand soap;
Blankets wrapped in dust-proof, water-proof plastic;
Large contractor-type trash bags;
Clean, gently worn hooded sweatshirts, winter coats and baby clothes.
Solt said items can be donated directly to the MCIDC office in the former Viscose Building, Lewistown Hospital or the front lobby of the historical Mifflin County Courthouse between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, Monday through Friday. Community members are also asked to bring donations to their churches on Nov. 11 or Nov. 18. Solt encourages church volunteers to deliver the items to the MCIDC office or call him at 242-0029 to arrange pickup.
Donations will also be received at three upcoming Night of Worship events with contemporary Christian guitar duo, Jonny Hale and Noah Chaparro. Solt said the free community entertainment events were scheduled more than a month ago, but have been rededicated to collecting goods and supplies for the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Night of Worship dates include:
7 p.m. Nov. 17 at Burnham Brethren Church, 541 E. Freedom Ave., Burnham;
10:30 a.m. Nov. 18 at New Life Church (Bible Baptist), 101 N. Beech St., Burnham;
7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Rockville Fellowship Church, 319 Rockville Road, Belleville.
All donations will be gathered and stored in a warehouse provided by MCIDC until shipments are loaded and delivered to SOCCRC and Christ in Action in New Jersey, and The Father's Heart Ministries in New York.
"I think it's a fantastic idea (Solt) came up with and we're 100 percent in support," Mark DeVecchis, of MCIDC, said.
In addition to individual donations of food and supplies, local organizers seek corporate donations of skids of water. Businesses interested in helping should contact Ernie Solt at 242-0029.
"The need is so great, and we were blessed that the storm missed us, so we need to reach out and do what we can," he said.