The short version of this post: If you want to help someone who is in turn selflessly helping the hardest hit by Sandy, all you have to do is order some of these delicious brownies or loaf cakes for Thanksgiving and/or the holidays.
The longer version:
Superstorm Sandy dealt the New York/New Jersey area a world of hurt. You know this. But maybe you haven’t read about some of the truly inspirational acts of kindness, compassion, and selflessness taking place among the ruins. I am especially touched by baked-good retailer Allison Robicelli‘s herculean effort to help out the hardest-hit areas of NYC.
On Friday night she announced on Twitter that she’d be driving a crapload of PB&J sandwiches to Staten Island:
I have a car that will bring all sandwiches to SI tomorrow. Need PB, bread, and sandwich baggies. In vicinty of 86th & FHP.
— robicellis (@robicellis) November 2, 2012
By Sunday, she and helpers had sent out more than 3,000 sandwiches from her apartment in Brooklyn. Three. Thousand.
Not only that, but Allison had turned into a one-woman Twitter-based food-aid dispatcher, directing volunteers and food-bringers to areas where nourishment was needed most. Her Twitter feed has become a great resource for finding out how to help people in the neighborhoods that aren’t getting a lot of press.
Thing is, Allison and her husband, Matt, were affected by the storm, too, having “lost a fortune in inventory last week.” The good news is that they seem to getting back on their feet (I’ve watched them bounce back from hardship after hardship before, so I have no doubt they’ll make it through this, too), but it can’t help their small business that Allison is working her butt off helping others in need.
I don’t really know Allison outside of Twitter, where I’ve followed her for a couple years now, but my sense is that she’d say there are other people way worse off than her and Matt. And there are. People are still in dire need in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, New Jersey, and elsewhere—and I’ll follow with links to places you can donate.
But I also think someone should look out for kind folks like the Robicellis, too. So I ask you to consider ordering Thanksgiving and holiday desserts from Robicelli’s. Here’s their online store: http://robicellis.tumblr.com/privateorders
Robicelli’s offers five types of brownies (I think I’ll go for the Guinness & Pretzel variety myself), a three-pack assortment of seasonal fall loaf cakes, and a hot-cocoa mix (served at fancy-pants places like Bergdorf Goodman).
My wife and I will be serving them on our Thanksgiving table this year and will give thanks that we made it through Sandy OK and that there are such inspiring people among the heartbreak out there.
How to help with Sandy relief
On Twitter Allison makes specific mention of these charities/organizations:
- Tunnel to Towers Foundation (Staten Island)
- The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City
- Brooklyn Recovery Fund
Other good local organizations that could use your help:
- Occupy Sandy
- City Harvest
- Kitchensurfing — Chefs for Sandy
- Red Hook Initiative
- NYC Food Truck Association (NYC food trucks trucking free meals out to where it’s needed most)
- Rebuild Hoboken (New Jersey) Relief Fund
- Restore the Shore (Claire and I love the Jersey Shore; this one is near and dear to our hearts)
- Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund
If anyone out there knows of good Long Island–specific relief funds, please let me know. While the outer boroughs here in NYC may be overshadowed by news of Manhattan, Long Island might as well be on the moon as far as coverage goes. They need help, too.
Update: Other Small, Food-Based Businesses to Help
There are a lot of other folks in the NYC food community doing the Lord’s work out there. Focusing on Allison isn’t meant to take away anything from what they’ve been doing.
- My friends at Lonestar Taco have fed people in Lower Manhattan and Gerritsen Beach (and in fact were the first people I saw to do guerrilla-style food aid).
- The people behind Whimsy & Spice volunteered while their commercial kitchen was without power (and are another small business that could use your help.) From the looks of her Twitter, Whimsy & Spice’s Jenna Park looks just as active with the organizing as Allison.
- If you like cured meats, try supporting Brooklyn Cured, who share Robicelli’s and Whimsey & Spice’s commercial kitchen and have also been helping with relief efforts.
- The NYC Food Truck Association (mentioned above) is taking food to where it’s needed most; I know I’ll be looking for participating trucks to give my business to when they’re back at their usual spots.
- Many of my foodo Twitter friends helped with their own sandwich brigades as well.
- And Brooklyn food force Cathy Erwell has great tips on cooking for the masses.
Toques off to all.