Phoenixville residents help Hurricane Sandy victims

Photo courtesy of Maria Bodnar Richard Deveney carries bottled water at the Phoenixville Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort collection site, 115 Main St., Phoenixville.

PHOENIXVILLE –Although Phoenixville dealt with little destruction from Hurricane Sandy, that’s not stopping residents from reaching out and helping people that have it much worse.

Shortly after the hurricane, residents formed Phoenixville Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort on Facebook.

Karen Johns helped initiate the group.

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After watching footage of the wreckage, “my family and a couple of friends said, ‘When is someone from town going to do something?’” Johns said.

The question got the ball rolling for Johns who then organized a meeting about relief effort at the Episcopal House with the help of Father James Evans. Thirty five people attended the meeting and the Facebook group was started.

Residents set up a collection site, donated by Manny DeMutis, at 115 Main St., and a monetary fund under the group name, Phoenixville Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort at Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust, 120 Main St.

The items the group is collected included toiletries, personal care items, canned food, cleaning supplies, diapers and many other items.

“Phoenixville collectively has a very warm and giving heart,” Johns said. “The response is wonderful. In giving we receive too. I know all work and all of the effort is making an impact on the lives of those affected by Hurricane Sandy.”

The effort has inspired a variety of people to help out, Johns said.

She said the neighborhood at 100 Columbia Avenue has agreed to match the money collected dollar for dollar.

A Cub Scout group wants to help sort items that are collected, Johns said.

Girls on the Run is conducting a toy drive and gathering buckets of cleaning supplies as a community service project.

The Phoenixville Area YMCA had an abundance of donated coats and was scheduled to deliver coats to the Phoenixville collection site this week.

Members of the group were adamant about identifying the hurricane victims that need the most help. This week the first truck of donations took items to Tuckerton, N.J. Footage of the hurricane damage shows that homes in that area were flattened.

Steve Adams, a Newtown Square resident, drove the first truckload of food and bottled water to Tuckerton and was scheduled to make another trip on Thursday.

Johns said, “I am so happy that donations are in route to those that need them.”

She said the effort wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the many volunteers that got involved including Richard Deveney, Maria Bodnar, Megan Staich, Walt Bohn, Maureen Rowan, Bob Domarasky and her family as well as the people that attended the original meeting.

Former Phoenixville residents have also contributed to the effort, Johns said.

She said the collection will continue as long as people keep donating.

Johns said she feels that the effort is a long-term project and that victims’ needs will change as they determine whether their properties can be repaired or need to be demolished.

Those living in shelters will continue to be in need of items until their houses can be rebuilt, she said.

The hours at the collection site, which are subject to change, are Monday through Friday, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A food drive is being held at Redners from 1:30 to 3 on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3.

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