Sandy’s Closet, where members of the College of Staten Island community could donate clothing and toiletries, and Sandy’s Pantry, which specifically collected food items, were the brainchildren of Suzy Shepardson, Associate Director of the Center for Advising and Academic Success who, after Sandy struck, asked, “Is CSI doing anything to help CSI people?”
“When I first moved here, I didn’t really know anybody so my friends at CSI became my extended family,” said Shepardson, explaining her strong ties to CSI. “And what do you do when family needs help? You do whatever it takes.”
Dozens of people made use of the Pantry and the Closet, located in the Center for the Arts, but many more made donations as was evident by the amount of supplies that were transported to other locations after the donation drive ended.
“We witnessed an amazing outpouring of generosity from our community members, from donations of clothing, bedding, household goods, food for people and pets, and cleaning supplies to offers to help sort and organize the donations to transporting items to local groups after Sandy’s Closet and Sandy’s Pantry closed,” explained Shepardson in a campus-wide email.
The project was supported by Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Salvador Mena, and Shepardson decided to provide a place where any member of the CSI community–faculty, staff, or student–was able to use both the Pantry and Closet to take anything they might need to help them recover from the storm, and as much of it as they needed. The idea being that it was a place that was anonymous and as free from judgment as possible.
“It’s hard to ask for help,” explained Shepardson regarding the need for the distribution centers to remain as anonymous as possible. “The idea was to make people feel as comfortable as possible.”
Outcomes of Sandy’s Closest and Sandy’s Pantry include:
-All food was delivered to Project Hospitality to support their food bank.
-Clothing, toiletries, and cleaning supplies were delivered to Safe Horizon to help local families grappling with recovery from domestic violence.
-The remaining clothing and goods were delivered to the local Salvation Army branch.
The Hurricane Sandy Collection Drive Team noted that although “Hurricane Sandy was nothing short of devastating, and recovery will not happen overnight…what we and the CSI community as a whole have done and will continue to do in the months ahead has provided what so many need—a helping hand and hope.”