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Garden City Community Church Members, Friends Provide Hurricane Help

Garden City Middle School eighth grade student, Max Lawson and seventh grade student, Quinn Heslin in Rockaway Beach with the United Church of Christ trailer. (photo courtesy of Tracey Lawson)
Garden City Middle School eighth grade student, Max Lawson and seventh grade student, Quinn Heslin in Rockaway Beach with the United Church of Christ trailer. (photo courtesy of Tracey Lawson)
Hurricane Sandy caused total devastation in the Rockaways as well as many other communities along the south shore of Long Island.

Garden City Community Church (GCCC) members and friends came out last weekend to help the people who were hit hard by the storm.

GCCC teamed up with members at the First Congregational Church in Rockaway Beach, along with other members of the United Church of Christ (UCC) Protestants from Delaware, Virginia and New York, as well as other faiths. A total of about 50 people worked on the projects.

"It’s great to see our people reaching out to help others in so many ways – with their check books, the donation of three carloads of relief items for various distribution centers, and also with the giving of their time, talent and labor," remarked the Reverend Jim Adelmann, GCCC senior pastor.

Todd and Max Lawson, an eighth grader from Garden City Middle School, Brian and Caroline Logler (eighth grade, GCMS) and Matt and Quinn Heslin (seventh grade, GCMS) all volunteered. They worked on two homes that were damaged.  One home belonged to a family with three children. The victims stayed in their home during the storm and their basement was severely damaged by water. They had no heat or electricity. Her youngest child has spinal bifida and was having a really hard time getting around in the debris. He had an electric-powered chair to help him get down the stairs but the power was out.

“We were overwhelmed with the family's perseverance and optimism,” Todd Lawson said.

The same day, St. Thomas School student Lizzie Teleisha and her friend worked on repairing the First Congregational Church with Lizzie's parents, Anne and Bill. Lee Amrhein, Francie Cohn and Paul Cohn joined them as they set up the Relief Distribution Center in the church for Rockaway Beach residents. They provided clothing, diapers, toiletries, flashlights, toys, batteries, water, food and cleaning supplies for the desperate needs of the people.

GCCC volunteer Francie Cohn said, "We worked on the basement apartment of the church's custodian, who escaped the rising water with his wife and child by pushing out a wall."

A van from Riverside Church in Manhattan also provided donations and fresh food for the community and the volunteers.

The Reverend Lynn Sullivan, GCCC associate pastor, said, "In the midst of being without power and battling the gas lines, it is inspirational to see our members drop everything and go where the need is. We are blessed to put our faith in action helping our neighbors in need."

The UCC outfits a disaster relief trailer that constantly makes the rounds of damaged areas, that is supported by UCC churches. The Rockaway Beach area will be an ongoing project with all outreach members and friends. All Garden City residents are welcome to join the group for a weekly Saturday work day, with carpools leaving from Garden City Community Church mornings.

Residents can also drop off supplies (clothing, batteries, flashlights, toiletries, linens, toys, diapers and cleaning items) at Garden City Community Church for the members to bring down to the hurricane-ravaged area. Call 516-746-1700 for further information on how you can help.