Hurricane Sandy Relief

Hurricane Sandy donation effort stuns organizer in Chatham Borough

Ellen Goldner trekked all the way to Springfield, Mass to ride out Hurricane Sandy, which is only part of the reason Bob Gockeler was shocked when she arrived Wednesday.

Show up unannounced with an SUV packed with essentials to donate to those affected by the storm and you're bound to dilate a few pupils, Gockeler said.

"It just blew me away," he said.

It was that kind of week for Gockeler. The owner of Kitchen Intuitions in Chatham spent a night brainstorming with his family how they could help after Sandy ravaged the shore points they visited on vacations. A few days later, Gockler was staring at a truck brimming with stuff, knowing he'd probably need a few more 16-footers before he was done.

"The response was huge," he said.

And final count was staggering, even though it's not technically final.

Several huge trucks. Pallets upon pallets of clothes, cleaning products, baby food, nonperishable food. Dozens of volunteers. Several businesses chipping in.

All of it was heading to Seaside, where Gockeler remembers strolling around the boards as a teen, and later with his children and Juile, his wife.

Kitchen Intuitions is still taking PayPal donations on its website and is prepared for sporadic drop-offs throughout the week, before it fills a truck or two more with donations from local schools and youth groups for another ride down the parkway.

Chatham donates to towns hit by Hurricane SandyYes, it was raining. And, yes, the Chatham Hurricane Sandy donation effort kept going last week.

Courtesy of Bob Gockeler

Gockeler didn't see this coming. Not when he got permission from Chatham mayor Bruce Harris gave Gockeler permission to take up three parking spots on Main Street so people could drop donations in his struck. Not until he shut down business a couple of days and focused on the relief effort was it that he got things under control.

"In a day and a half, we filled an entire truck," he said. "Now it's like, what do you do with this? Most of the shelters couldn't handle this size volume."

Fortunately for Gockeler, a Chatham teacher got him in touch with the Red Cross, which coordinated the donation's landing spot. She also lent a group of students Saturday to the effort. Tony Britt was also instrumental in coordination.

Bliss Clothing and Accessories, Chatham Sport Shop and Jabberwocky Children's Books also were donation drop-off points. Chatham Moving and Storage donated boxes and packing tape, Gockeler said.

A middle school group delivered 400 rolls of toilet paper after their Halloween celebration was canceled, due to Sandy, Gockeler said.

Gockeler said those considering donating should focus mostly on nonperishable food — granola bars, pop-top cans of soup — and cleaning products. The Red Cross has been overwhelmed with used clothes, he said.

"The one thing I kept hearing was, 'Thank you, we didn't know where we could help,'" Gockeler said.

Reproduced from article found on

NJ com

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