Love Flows began in November 2012 as a project to help Staten Island recover from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. [link to Sandy Relief tab] For the next six months, we raised more than $24,000 and helped provide food, tools, building materials, clothing, household items, rent relief, and senior housing to victims of Sandy. Much of that relief was provided with gift cards that we purchased at a discount from our partners at Ahold (Giant and Stop & Shop supermarkets), Home Depot, and Sears Holdings (Kmart and Sears). Those programs, and UUCSV’s ability to support all of the overhead of Love Flows, allowed Love Flows to leverage $24,000 in donations into more than $25,000 of benefits for Staten Islanders.
We had a lot of partners. Kids from Bloomsburg University Protestant Chaplaincy program helped raise money and designed very snazzy buttons to sell. They sold them, we sold them, and money got raised.
Our first thought was simply to send money as quickly as possible. We made contact with a local UU Church, which happened to be a distribution center for the Local Occupy Sandy project. We quickly formed a working partnership. What worked for them was that we sent them money and not blankets they had to protect from bedbugs or food or cleaning supplies which they had to store and distribute. Cash kept families going, clean-up crews supplied and food kitchens open. While it was miniscule in the amount of need, the good faith and friendship were welcome. Someone cared what they were facing. It helped us because we were actually doing something. We needed to help because we knew their story. Only 2 years before our Valley had been crippled by a Labor Day Hurricane.
In May 2013, we took a busload of Friends and Members from the UUCSV and took the relief workers a couple days off.
We brought some workers:
We brought a band of musicians along and it was amazing! There was dancing! There were youngsters learning to drum.
We brought good food, from our Valley to their Island. We also supported two local food vendors who were trying to get back on their feet. Everyone made too much food, so there was lots for everyone, and plenty left over for after church eating the next day. Because food came back home from their Island to our Valley! Most of the group went back to Pennsylvania that evening, but some of us stayed and offered them Church the next morning. At that point together with our sister UU church, we presented relief checks to an organization that needed ramps and elevators to offer seniors housing and to an organization that was supplying rent relief to local immigrants.