Tuxedo rallies to help victims of Sandy

School bus and pickup truck bring needed supplies to those still suffering six weeks later

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  • This is a community distribution center in Staten Island, where girl scouts and others from Tuxedo brought supplies to help that still struggling with the havoc of Hurricane Sandy.

  • A community organizer directs the distribution of supplies.

— It’s been six weeks since Superstorm Sandy hit the metro-New York/New Jersey area, but the Tuxedo community wants Staten Island residents to know they have not been forgotten.

Last Sunday, a packed bus and pick-up truck from the Tuxedo School District transported donations of supplies, food, clothing and other sundry items to Staten Island victims. Tuxedo residents and business owners were determined to help Staten Islanders continue to rebuild their lives destroyed by the superstorm’s fury.

“We saw the efforts that were going on in Monroe, and I spearheaded things on the Tuxedo side,” said Theresa Ruscillo, a Tuxedo resident and Tuxedo Girl Scout leader. “My thoughts were New Yorkers helping New Yorkers. Staten Island, I read, was one of those communities which was forgotten.”

People helping people

She added: “There’s sentiment in those areas that those areas didn’t have the support from the government. The American Red Cross is not a big enough presence in the urgency of what they needed. I spoke with the office of (Staten Island Borough President) James Molinaro, and they hooked me up with Guyon Rescue.”

Guyon Rescue is a grass roots organization started by residents of Oakwood Beach in the Great Kills section of Staten Island who stepped up to help their own community in need, according to Ruscillo. The group started with long time friends, brothers Derek and John Tabacco, Karen Torrone and others who grew up there, she said, and came back to help their community.

“They came to Guyon Avenue with compassion, a barbeque, bottles of drinking water and Facebook,” Ruscillo said. “And now they are open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, feeding over 1,800 meals a day and providing food and necessities for over 300 families. This seems to be the forgotten land, a New York City borough, only 50 minutes from our town. They feel the Red Cross, Bloomberg and FEMA have turned their backs on them. They are running on donation efforts from outside their community, like ours.”

‘War zone’

Ruscillo said bringing the donated items to the area was an eye-opening experience.

“It was like a war zone, it truly was,” she said. “It was unbelievable. They wiped out acres and acres of blue collar homes and people don’t have electricity. It was still very much like the first images you saw after the hurricane hit. Most of the people don’t have places to go and that’s why they saw such a need for this rescue. To see the images upfront was truly compelling.”

She stressed that was the Tuxedo community’s effort that made a difference.

“Without all the pieces of the puzzle connecting, we could not have made this happen,” she said. “It was definitely a community wide effort. At that moment, we all knew that we did something special, a cause bigger than any one of us and that we did the right thing. We arrived with pride in what we accomplished, hopes to make a difference and left with the guilt that we had to do more.”


Ruscillo thanked everyone who assisted in some way, including: the Tuxedo School District, Tuxedo Girl Scouts, the Monroe Girl Scout Service Unit, Tuxedo Park School, the Tuxedo-Eagle Valley Fire Dept., Town of Haworth, N.J., the Ramapo Valley Soccer Club, Tuxedo Junction, Spray 9, all who sent supplies directly to Guyon Rescue on Tuxedo’s behalf and all who gave their time and donations to support the effort.

“We want to thank people for embracing it, added Ruscillo. “To fill a whole bus and pickup truck was a big deal. We truly did a worthwhile thing. There’s always the skepticism that you went to the right place, did you pick the right organization. We truly understood why we needed to do it on our end.”

- Nancy Kriz

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