SANDY: How to Help, with updates.

Today I went out to Red Hook, to donate some stuff to aid relief. While I usually think its super douche-y to brag/blog about doing charity (and I pretty much never do any), I’m telling you because I want to show you how easy it was. I’m no hero. I gave away  old sweatshirts, and blankets, gloves and scarves I bought on the street in emergencies and haven’t worn in years. Hats that my husband and I only use once every 4 years, and only by accident, towels- which I happen to have many of, because my mother in law bought me an entire new batch last week. I gave away the old ones. I gave away my 3 older pairs of sneakers that I was just keeping for no reason. The socks that when I put them on, I think, ugh, these socks. I gave away the things that were looking at me funny in my closet and that I was keeping out of guilt. Then I went through all the stuffed animals that I had in the closets, and helped Cookie decide to give them away to children that needed them because they lost everything. Point is, these were easy decisions. (I would have had 20 bags of stuff if I didn’t do that de-hoarding session last year!)

I chose Red Hook because it’s the closest place that I could get to with my quarter tank of gas. Gas lines in the city are now up to 4 hours. There is a black market gas market happening in Brooklyn, it’s that crazy.

Anyway, my husband had to work, so I packed up my two kids and drove down to give my donations. The scene there was beyond what I could have ever imagined. Why? Because I’m a spoiled girl who has never had to see someone waiting on line for soup, or see a mother choosing shoes for her children from a pile, or kids looking through toys or hear- Do you have diapers? It broke my heart. Aside from the hundreds of people donating/volunteering and receiving aid, there were many other volunteers and home owners wearing masks and going through the wreckage of their homes. My photos are limited by my sheer embarrassment at sticking a camera out the window and photographing someone else’s pain. I didn’t think “it’s for my blog” would help matters.

These outlying areas are still without power, water, gas etc. People ares scared shitless at night, and freezing. You go from third world to celebrity sightings and Xmas in NYC in a matter of blocks. It’s crazy.

I instagrammed a photo, subject: If you want to cry, go to Red Hook, and the photo turned into a magnet for drop off information, centers, and where and how to provide relief. I promised to compile a list of places to send donations and volunteer because so many people were inquiring. But that wasn’t easy, not even a little easy. I actually have no idea how to even go about it, then Madison Avenue Spy sent me a link to this site. An informative, comprehensive list. SEE THE FULL LIST HERE.

There is also an interactive Hurricane Relief Google Map that will tell you exactly where shelters are in NYC, click HERE for the map.

I’ve narrowed it down for NYC centric readers. Also, if anyone has any specific information, please leave it in the comments.

These are the places I’ve heard from directly that are really in need:

Red Hook: (where I donated)

The Red Hook Initiative is collecting toilet paper, water, candles, food, flashlights, cell phone chargers, batteries, paper towels, and paper for printers.

Here are details on The Red Hook Initiative’s operations for the week of Nov. 5:

VolunteersPlease report to 402 Van Brunt Street
10am – 5pm

Hot Meals
Hot meals should be delivered to 767 Hicks Street
11am – 6pm
Please tell us if you plan to deliver hot food and at what time. We’d like to try to make sure we have enough and that we don’t get too much knowing other communities need the same.
If you plan to bring a meal, send an email to

Cleaning Supplies / Water Pumps/Generators
Please deliver to 402 Van Brunt Street
10am – 5pm

Canned Food/ Non-perishables / Flashlights/ Candles/ Blankets
Please deliver to 767 Hicks Street OR
Good Shepherd Services, 173 Conover Street OR
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 98 Richards Street/ Verona Street
10am – 5pm


Sea Gate needs the following asap:


Shaving supplies
Tooth paste
Cat food
Toilet paper
Paper towels
Cleaning supplies
Baby juices

Please bring any and all donations through the Surf Ave entrance to the Sea Gate Chapel. Ask for Tami (Community Manager) or see any of the Sea Gate Police.


The Silver Gull Club is accepting donations to help Breezy Point. They are collecting batteries, flashlights, toiletries, water, food, blankets/bedding and other necessities. No clothing, please. 1 Beach 193rd Street (718) 634-1500

Occupy Sandy Relief has been collating drop-off locations, volunteer info and requests.

Drop-off location for goods like clothing, batteries food and water:

  • Firehouse on 59th street across from the train station – contact person: Jean Dupont 917.975.5623
  • Veggie Island – 96th Street and Rockaway Blvd.
  • Store Front Community Center – B113 and Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Rockaway Recovery has instructions on how to aid in getting food and goods to Far Rockaway.

From a reader:

The main donation center in the Rockaways: St Francis church on Beach 129th. We also met a rabbi who is using his home as a drop off location on Beach 137th. He informed us that what people really need at this point, in that area at least, are cleaning supplies, and I’m sure manpower if people are willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. And still further on Beach 116th, there is a man who is very efficiently running his own donation center out of Suncycle Studios, it is across the street from what used to be The Sandbar on the boardwalk there. It is just him and a bunch of volunteers, and he is doing an unbelievable job. they are literally taking anything. And trust me when i say that the people who were in need, were taking it all: shoes, hats, diapers, towels, anything! If anyone is going to that area try to get to that man! I was also just told that that area really needs radios that work on batteries if anyone can get that there.

Staten Island:

SI Live has a list of organizations and locations accepting monetary donations and goods.

Gerritsen Beach:

I’m not sure.

Manhattan Beach: 

I’m not sure.

Within Manhattan, Drop Off:

Saloon NYC is accepting donations to the Rockaways and Broad Channel. Supplies and food (no clothing, please) dropped off there will be delivered to St. Francis des Sales church in Belle Harbor, NY. 1584 York Avenue, New York, NY 10028 (Between 83rd & 84th St) 212.570.5454

The Bowery Mission is accepting donations for the homeless at both locations. Volunteers should report only to the Bowery Street location. 45-51 Avenue D, (212)777-3424 and 227 Bowery (212) 674-3456.

The Uptown Dropoff for the Bowery Mission is 132 Madison Avenue (at 31 st).

Update from a reader:

If any city people want to donate or volunteer their time in the city, any day this week, they should go to the big gray stone church on 90th St. bet 2nd and 3rd Ave. They are set up to sort mdse and have Shleppers movers deliver donations to the needy.
There will be collections of any type of goods at Molly’s Pub 85th St and 2nd Ave.
All weekends this month. And they too have trucks on the block who deliver these donations to SI.
If you have clean winter clothing for infants, toddlers, children and adults, you can drop them off or mail them to the address below: Zion Physical Therapy, 1556 Third Avenue, Suite 211, New York, NY 10128 All of the donated items will be picked up from this location on Wednesday, November 7, 2012, no later than 8:00 pm
ABCHome is accepting canned goods and coats @ 30 east 19th street during store hours for hurricane relief.
Another update from a reader:


From Congregation Beth Elohim,  who are sending emergency supplies and volunteers to South Brooklyn, the Rockaways and Redhook.
Here are the things we need today: Blankets (Please wash, dry and wrap

in saran wrap) , socks, non-perishables, breakfast bars, boxes,
candles, matches, batteries and water.
Please deliver to 274 Garfield Place (at 8th Ave.), Brooklyn, NY 11215.

Please sign-up here for our Monday volunteer opportunites:
If anyone knows of specific volunteer needs or is willing to help
identify projects for our volunteers, please email



Yeshiva of Belle Harbor is moving to Brooklyn after losing EVERYTHING to Sandy. The new location will be at EITZ CHAIM 1649 east 13th, grades starting from nursery-8 th , WILL TAKE ANY KIND OF DONATION….volunteers, desks, chairs, blackboards, chalk, toys, crayons, paper towels, cleaning products, pencils. 1-347-688-YHB8

I’ve also heard of specific families who are in need of furniture. If you live in the NYC area and have furniture to donate, leave a comment and I’ll contact you.

Sephardic Bikur Holim is accepting new clothes and jackets and non-perishable food. (718) 787-1100 425 Kings Highway. 

I encourage everyone to contact their local shul, church, or community center, almost every local organization is working on some kind of volunteer and donation program- or, if you can spare the gas, drive to the church in the city or town you want to help out in. There will be people there. These small  institutions can get the products and relief to those in need faster than the Red Cross or FEMA.

You can also buy something to benefit Sandy Relief. I love these SoPo shirts HERE and these shirts by artist SEBASTIAN ERRAZURIZ, HERE. Very cool, I would love to make a shirt or print to sell, but obviously need to get on that, ASAP.


If you want to donate, have AMAZON.COM or DRUGSTORE.COM deliver overnight:
battery operated radios (include batteries) and battery powered lanterns (include batteries), soy infant formula, work gloves, contractor-grade trash bags, winter clothing for men, women and children, blankets, hats, gloves, scarves, flashlights, batteries, cleaning supplies, candles, matches/lighters, and non-perishable food (best is anything high in nutrients: peanut butter, granola bars, nuts, Ensure, canned food (flip top is ideal but not imperative) including: tuna, canned chicken, canned salmon, beans, corn, green beans).

SEND TO: Office of Councilman James Sanders, 234-26 Merrick Blvd., Laurelton, NY 11422 718-527-4356. NYC Councilman Sanders has set up a a nearby location to receive donations and shuttle them to the Central Avenue center.

I told my sister that I ate my feelings all week, and have since gained the #sandyfifteen. She said – we all did, but WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS? Considering that I *almost* wouldn’t have even known about  the storm if I hadn’t watched TV, my neighborhood and my parents neighborhoods never even lost power, and everyone I know is mostly fine- why do I care so much? Why am I so devastated? I dont really know why. Cant explain it. Its like my whole privileged life just came into focus. Before the storm hit- aside from dealing with my kids, and blog/work- my biggest problem was: What shoes should I buy this season? This was more than just a passing thought, it was something I was working on. Wow. What a shock. It’s hard to just go back to pretending I don’t know whats happening. Anyway, thats how I feel about it.

Some photos from Red Hook and Coney Island (which aside from sand, was largely OK.)

Here is a list of relief charities from NYC blogger Sweet Fine Day, whose blogpost on Brooklyn and Sandy is heartbreaking, HERE. I also enjoyed Door 16’s post about returning to Dumbo HERE.

The Brooklyn Recovery Fund

Coney Island Shorefront Y

Red Hook Initiative

New York Cares

Staten Island Project Hospitality

New York City Coalition Against Hunger

Food Bank for NYC
Masbia Food Kitchen
The Ali Forney Drop In Center for Homeless LGBT Youth

The Rockaway Waterfront Alliance

CAAAV Chinatown, Organizing Asian Communities

Hurricane Sandy Nonprofit Resources Page

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  1. THanks for all of this, especially putting my own guilt into words. I was unscathed in the storm and pretty much enjoyed a full week off from work while half of manhattan was under water and without power. My boyfriend and I walked 10 miles a day last week into downtown manhattan and I could barely take a single picture. It’s amazing on how glaringly different my life was uptown versus everyone else below the 30th St dividing line.

    Until this week, I thought I was ‘struggling’ as a New Yorker—30 years old, living with roommates (what a failure!!), bitching about who is hogging the washing machine. After this week I’ve felt so lucky and privileged that I feel guilty about it. I was going out to dinner last week on 9th ave while people were filling up their pots and pans at the fire hydrant. I felt even guiltier leaving the island this weekend while i headed up to see my family.

    I think this is an example of how fragile our modern day society is (highly dependent on gas, technology, and electricity) and how much help people in our own back yards need. This isn’t just post-Sandy, it’s every day. Sandy just helped all of us see that.

  2. Thank you for taking the time for collecting all this info and writing it all up. We left coasters only hear Red Cross and that hardly seems quick enough. Been following Door Sixteen’s tweets and photo story and now Sweet Fine Day. Feel like this is the real news we’ve needed to hear out this way. Where is the freaking news coverage? The world just keeps on turning doesn’t it? Not going to pretend like this didn’t happen. Will make sure this gets around to those I know.

  3. nic, this is an amazing compilation of information. We were in the rockaway park area yesterday and we couldnt believe what we were seeing. There are a few donation areas there, the main one being St Francis church on Beach 129th, i believe. We also met a rabbi who is using his home as a drop off location on Beach 137th. He informed us that what people really need at this point, in that area at least, are cleaning supplies, and im sure manpower if people are willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. And still further on Beach 116th, there is a man who is very efficiently running his own donation center out of Suncycle Studios, it is acroos the street from what used to be The Sandbar on the boardwalk there. it is just him and a bunch of volunteers, and he is doing an unbelievable job. they are literally taking anything. and trust me when i say that the people who were in need, were taking it all. shoes, hats, diapers, towels, anything! if anyone is going to that area try to get to that man! i was also just told that that area really needs radios that work on batteries if anyone can get that there. sorry to bombard you with info, i just know your blog is pretty far reaching, and every little bit helps!

    • Nicole Cohen says:

      Thanks Jen! This is so helpful! Ill add it to the body of the post as well!

  4. Thank you so much for writing this post and getting all this information together about where and how to help. I feel very much how you do, especially as we were very lucky and personally barely affected by this storm.

  5. kates says:

    Occupy Wall Street, has organized Occupy Sandy, which has been directly aiding the worst-hit areas in Brooklyn and Queens with supplies, shelter, and help cleaning out flooded areas since immediately after the storm. Groups in Red Hook and Sunset Park were among the Brooklyn groups who were already very organized and active, and able to immediately start helping out and coordinating volunteers in Red Hook, Coney Island, and the Rockaways. Several news outlets have reported Occupy was faster to deliver direct aid than the Red Cross and other national organizations. Occupy has set up a “wedding registry” on Amazon for anyone who wants to donate supplies.

  6. Liked this to share on my FB page.
    This is wonderful info.
    Wish I was there to help you at street level.
    xo xo

  7. jen says:

    also in brooklyn you can go to coney island Warbasse. broken gas line, no heat, no pwerm no hot water, animals with no place to go, no trash incinerator…they need help! to volunteer u can go to 2770 west 5th street. they need food, water, boxes and other necessary items for many seniors who are there and stuck through the noreaster that is supposed to be coming this week.

  8. Robin says:

    Hi – first time commenter – been reading for about a year though. I just wanted to say that I could really dislike you (out of sheer jealousy), but you make it impossible. You seemingly “have it all” yet you are really down to earth (or your blog comes across that way) and you don’t appear to be the least bit braggy when writing about some really amazing things that most people only get to read about. Also, I really loved your blog about the importance of travel. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • Nicole Cohen says:

      My heart dropped when I read the first sentence… Thank you, this is really sweet and honest. I think like anyone else, I can be down to earth, but also have my head up my own ass/in the clouds sometimes. I try to keep the blog as real as I can. And like most people I fluctuate between deep appreciation and thankfulness and stress, boredom and feeling trapped…. I guess thats life.

      And that blog post about travel was one of my favorites ever. Thanks for your comment.