BNLers Help Brighten Holidays for Local Super Storm Sandy Victims

After Super Storm Sandy ripped up the east coast leaving devastation in its path, BNLers wanted to come together to help local neighbors who had lost their homes and personal belongings. It was likely that these victims of Sandy wouldn’t be celebrating the holidays in usual fashion.

So, Nora Detweiler of the Lab’s Community Relations Office contacted members of the Tri-Hamlet Hurricane Relief organization who were working with the Mastic and Shirley communities and asked what BNL could do to help. The organization suggested BNL check out a program called “Adopt-A-Family” sponsored by Colonial Youth and Family Services.

Detweiler, together with Tara Shiels, a new member of the Lab’s Community Relations Office, contacted Colonial Youth facilitators Michelle Blum and Ray Hopp to find out what the neighbors to Brookhaven’s south needed most. Detweiler was provided a list of 12 families with their ages, clothing sizes, and of course, their Santa wish list.

Then, Shiels sent out a plea to all BNL directorates asking if they would be willing to “adopt a family” this holiday season. BNLers didn’t hesitate at the chance to help out and shopped for toys, clothing, food, and also bought gift cards with the leftover cash they had collected. Shiels said she was happy to coordinate the project, including collecting the large amount of donated items.

In the true BNL spirit of giving, demonstrated so often in the past, the response was overwhelming!

Laboratory Director Sam Aronson was pleased, but not surprised, when he walked in to the conference room where the many stacks of donated items awaited pick-up by BNL drivers.

“We can always depend on our employees to step up and help those in need,” said Aronson. “I thank everyone involved for their hard work and neighborly compassion.”

“As a new employee, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Shiels. “But I was in awe when the boxes of gifts kept streaming in.”

The drivers delivered everything to Colonial Youth workers who were distributing the donated items from the Knights of Columbus Hall in Mastic.

Blum and Hopp of Colonial Youth welcomed BNL to their list of donating organizations. “Colonial Youth has been organizing the holiday Adopt-a-Family program for over 35 years, but we have never seen this many donations,” said Hopp. “With BNL’s help we will make 163 local families have a nicer holiday.”

Blum added, “So many people lost so much, but it’s wonderful to see the community come out in full force to help their neighbors.”

“I think this project made employees feel as if they really made a difference to our neighbors who are less fortunate and suffered such loss in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy,” said Detweiler. “We can always count on BNLers to open their hearts.”

During the collection campaign, staff members of the community relations office listened to personal stories and comments from Lab employees across the site who said that helping their fellow Long Islanders was of great importance to them.

Below are a few of those comments:

It was such a pleasure being able to assist those in need, especially during the holidays. As soon as we found out that there were families in need, we adopted a family (#34), sent out a notice to the Department Staff and, as always, many staff members pitched in. We are so very thankful that members of the C-A Department always come together on occasions such as these and that we were able to make this family’s holiday a little brighter.

I am grateful to the staff of the C-A Department for their generous support, and Christine Meyer, Doreen Cantelmo, Paul Sparrow, William Anderson, Regis Saitta for their assistance in the collection, packing, and delivery of contributions to the Community Relations Office.
Gladys Blas
Collider-Accelerator Department

I was so happy to contribute to your making your holiday special! I wish your family a happy and healthy new year!
Cindi Biancarosa
Community, Education, Government, and Public Affairs

With donations from family and friends from places like Switzerland, New Mexico and Honduras, I put together a few nice boxes with gifts to make the holidays a bit more enjoyable for my “adopted” family of 3. I am grateful for the opportunity to help a family in my neighborhood.
Paula Callejas-Lynn
Photon Sciences

The holidays have become a test of endurance as of late, with little joy to be found. This year, however, the thought of doing for those who lost so much in our own back yards due to Hurricane Sandy, I jumped at the opportunity to lead our Directorate into action. The people of the GARS Directorate were so generous and caring that it blew my mind. Then, the shopping spree with my 2 “elves” couldn’t have been better. “More, more,” was our battle cry as we were price-checking and realizing we could get another item. The wrapping of our treasures for those we don’t know brought smiles to our faces and the question, “Do you think they’ll like what we picked out?” It didn’t matter, really, because the money donated, clothing & gift cards bought, and the wrapping was done from the heart. This was my Christmas gift this year. My heart is overwhelmed with joy, even as I’m writing this.
Bonnie Sherwood
Global and Regional Solutions Directorate

Members of HR’s Compensation and HRIS Group were happy to reach across the Lab to a member of the GARS Nuclear Science Technology Department to fulfill all the wishes of Family #3. It was humbling to see the quiet generosity unfold as we were committed to helping our neighbors most impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Gail O’Hern
Human Resources

As a mother of three teenage girls, I especially enjoyed shopping for a teenage boy, whose needs were so genuine and reasonable. I found myself taking special care in helping to complete his wishes.

Tags: community

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