Schedules toy drive to hard-hit New Jersey this week
Members of Ninth District Sons of the American Legion (SAL) were active in providing relief to areas in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy and will continue their efforts this Saturday by providing toys and a visit from Santa Claus to hard-hit areas that are still working to recover.
According to Ninth District Commander John Cramsey, volunteers will leave from the American Legion Post #184 in Palm around 1 p.m. to deliver a “few pickup trucks full of toys” to Keansburg and Highland in the north-central coastal area of the state.
Anyone wishing to make a donation of a toy or gift card can drop it off at the American Legion Post #184, 744 Gravel Pike in Palm (East Greenville for GPS users), beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday right up to the time the caravan leaves at 1 p.m. In addition, Santa will be there and will be available for photos in front of the American Legion’s 911 memorial.
Back on Oct. 29 when Hurricane Sandy was about to hit the coast of New Jersey, Cramsey began to organize an emergency response team of volunteers from throughout the district with boats, generators and other emergency supplies. The group traveled to the Garden State and was involved in the evacuation of residents from a mobile home park in Hoboken that was inundated with five feet of water.
Cramsey said, “It was truly a sad site to see these poor people clutching their loved ones and their pets as well as whatever mementos that they could keep dry to try and salvage a little something from the utter destruction.”
The group returned to New Jersey on Oct. 31 with a truckload of donated relief supplies delivered to American Legion Post #327 in Keansburg where a hurricane relief shelter was set up. Their 26-foot truck contained two boats and motors, life jackets, generators, heaters, fuel, a pallet of water donated by Home Depot, hundreds of hot dogs donated by Yocco’s, food, diapers, baby food and formula, pet food, purchased with gift cards from Weis Markets in Macungie, blankets and clothing, donated by the Valor Clinic Foundation, and hundreds of sleeping bags and blankets donated by the Second Brigade Motorcycle Club.
After helping out at Keansburg, the group traveled to Highlands, New Jersey to deliver relief supplies to American Legion Post #143. The group also left a generator big enough to operate the entire building which was acting as a hurricane relief center.
The group made several more trips to the communities during November, delivering donated supplies. Some of the volunteers who helped with the relief effort included Robin Liberty, Joe Wysochanski, Carl Wenhold, James Regan, Richard Bently, Thomas Held, Kit Watson, and Cramsey’s three sons, John, Matthew and Dakota.
In a thank-you email to the members of the Ninth District, past New Jersey Detachment Commander Patrick Gallagher wrote, “What you have done has helped make some people learn what the American Legion is all about. We are the ones on the front line helping communities in a time of crisis and need …. I can only thank you for your help in this time of need. I am so grateful to you and your American Legion family for helping our shore area rebuild. We will be forever in your debt.”
District 9 consists of 40 American Legion Posts from East Greenville to Philadelphia with 20 of them having a SAL Squadron associated with them. Cramsey added that “anyone who had a forefather, stepfather or grandfather who served during a time of conflict would be welcomed to join our fine organization and feel the joy of helping our communities and children in need.”