People in Damariscotta are loading a trailer with goods to help with the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. by Chris Chase
Coastal Journal staff
DAMARISCOTTA — A group of people from Damariscotta have decided to pitch in to the ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief effort in a big way.
Organized by Larry Sidelinger, Russ Williams, and the American Legion Post #42, the small group has obtained a large box trailer which they are filling with goods to be driven to Long Island, specifically the Rockaway beach area.
The trailer, set up in the parking lot of the American Legion in Damariscotta, will be filled with a variety of goods that the refugees of the hurricane will need in the coming months.
“It’s been here only three days and we’re already almost half full,” said Gayle Gifford, a volunteer from the American legion, on Nov. 10.
The volunteers are asking for items like clothes, canned goods, books, pet food, or other items that will help in day-to-day life. Currently, the most-needed items are hand tools, such as hammers and saws, so that the residents can get started on rebuilding their homes. The idea came about after a similar effort was done roughly seven years ago, in order to help people afflicted by a hurricane in Florida.
“I thought maybe we would get a U-haul,” said Gifford of the past project. “It just got too big. The people in this area are so wonderful about donating.”
Left to right, top row: joan Fenski and Ann Geisler. Bottom row: Gerry Gifford, Gayle Gifford, Bonnie Knott, and Marcia Mortimer.That generosity was in full evidence as car after car rolled in to donate various goods. Typically, the goods they donated were organized as well to make it easier for the volunteers to sort through them.
In addition to the community donations, Reny’s and other local businesses all contributed goods.
According to Sidelinger, the plan is to fill the trailer and take it down, but if they get enough donations, that plan could change.
“We might need another trailer,” said Sidelinger. “If we do, we’ll find another one.”
The current trailer has been donated by Northeast Transportation. Sidelinger runs a separate transportation company, and used to drive trucks for a living until he started his own company. Even though he no longer drives trucks each day, Sidelinger said he’ll drive this one down himself.
“I guess you could say I’m coming out of retirement,” said Sidelinger with a laugh.
Some of the goods that rolled in included wheelbarrows, hand tools, and shovels, items that would be needed in the coming months as families try to put their lives back together.
The group estimates it will cost roughly $700 in fuel to get the truck to Long Island, a cost that the monetary donations they have received will more than cover.
According to Sidelinger, he had been receiving phone calls from people who live hours away from Damariscotta, all wanting to know how they could help and what they could bring.
Even though the outpouring was sudden and large in volume, most of the volunteers weren’t surprised at all.
“The community tends to be really good about things like this,” said Marcia Mortimer, one of the volunteers who helped organize the goods.
“It’s the spirit of the Maine people, it’s what we do,” said Sidelinger. “If you pay it ahead, it’ll always come back.”
Even though on the surface it looks like a well-organized and thought-out plan, according to Sidelinger, the reality of the situation is different. There isn’t any concrete plan or organized bureaucracy behind the effort. It’s just a group of people who wanted to start doing something as fast as they could.
“We’re just winging it,” said Sidelinger with a laugh. “It’s working well so far.”
The trailer will remain at the Damariscotta American Legion post until Nov. 17. They will be accepting donations between noon and 4 p.m. on weekdays, and between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends.