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  • Before Sandy hit, I had convinced myself that this storm would be like many other; hyped up by the media but barely making an impact once it landed. I was so wrong.

    In the days that followed destruction and loss were everywhere. The minor inconvenience of no power that our family dealt with paled in comparison to the complete devastation of so many others. I had to do something.

    Banding together with four other women in my community we formed a group that would collect, sort and distribute a variety of supplies to those that had been hit the hardest. Like so many others around the state of NJ, and around the country, we wanted to make sure that everyone that had experienced loss would have everything they needed as quickly as possible. After all, that could have been us.

    For weeks dozens of volunteers gathered at the donated retail space we named "The Center" and we all worked 12 hours to get as much done as we could. We took breaks to share stories of those we knew that had lost homes, cars, businesses, lives. We weren't going to stop until everything was back to normal.

    Yesterday I went to The Center to open at 10am. By 10:30 two volunteers had arrived. They offered to make two deliveries to southern NJ. An hour later, another volunteer. And then one more. They spent the morning slowly sifting through the last of the donations. Then a mother and her daughter arrived and they joined them. By 2pm, we were all ready to go home.

    So much has changed since those first few days of organizing dozens and dozens of volunteers, carefully channeling their fierce passion and astounding energy to make the most use of what we knew would be short-lived commitments.

    I do this work every day. Not in response to natural disasters or temporary hardships but to fight for the rights of half of million children in our nation's child welfare system. Kids who have never know normal. Kids who have known loss and despair and devastation far too early and far too often in their lives.

    We hold drives for personal care supplies and gifts for these young people all year. We have never had dozens of volunteers at one event. We have never had to turn away help or donations because we already had too much.

    It was beautiful watching people come together in the wake of this super storm. But for me, it was also quite sad.

    If only I could find and channel that kind of fierce passion and astounding energy 365 days a year.
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