WRIGHT TWP. – While residents and organizations throughout the region collect clothing, food, money and even diapers for Hurricane Sandy regions in New Jersey and New York, Bob Parker has is on a mission to bring firewood from the mountains to the beach.
Parker, a member of the United Assembly of God, said he called the New Jersey region office of his church and asked what can be done to help victims there. He was told there's a need for the basics but among the long list was firewood for heat since many victims still don't have power back.
He thought of all the downed trees he sees in his neighborhood and throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and figured if he could spread the word to area residents to take some time, cut some downed trees into firewood and drop it off at a central location, the wood could be headed to the Jersey Shore by the end of next week.
Parker grew up in beach communities in Delaware and New Jersey and said he has been spoiled living in Northeastern Pennsylvania with the abundance of trees and available wood, something the Jersey shore has little of.
He has contacted other United Assembly of God churches in the region, including those in Trucksville, Hazleton and Hawley, and hopes their pastors will spread the word at services this weekend.
Parker has gotten approval from the Mountain Top Hose Co. No. 1 to allow for a staging area to be set up in the fire station parking lot Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. He's looking not only for cords of wood, though. He's also asking for people to lend their trucks, and if possible, take the time to drive the wood to the shore.
The targeted destination is 158 miles away in Lakewood, N.J., which Parker said is still without power, received 8 inches of snow from the nor'easter earlier this week and is running low on many supplies.
He is concerned for people living without heat as temperatures fall. He is hoping the firewood also will allow people to cook on the fires they build.
He is not concerned that wood may be wet.
Obviously, it's better when it's dry, but when you're desperate you'll get it to burn, he said.
The House of Blessing, a ministry at Calvary Lighthouse in Lakewood, is helping to coordinate the efforts and will distribute the wood.
Director Barbara Cotter said Lakewood and surrounding communities have been devastated and the wood is desperately needed.
Her power was restored Friday, but thousands of others are still without it. One of the first things she did was go on the computer and start reading about the storm's damage and look at photos of the damage.
It's something when you're looking at it you think you're watching a movie. You think it can't possibly be real, Cotter said. It's absolutely horrible.
The mission's pantry has handed out what would be an average month's worth of food in the past week and supplies are running low. She said people are desperate and are burning whatever they can, even buying two-by-fours at hardware stores. The firewood drive idea was absolutely fabulous, she said, and she hopes the kind people in Northeastern Pennsylvania come through.
It's needed very badly, Cotter said. People are absolutely freezing here.
• The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts will accept donations in the venue's lobby at all events throughout the remainder of 2012. All donated funds will be directed to Feeding America via the Commission on Economic Opportunity. Cash donations and checks made payable to Feeding America will be accepted. Donations can also be made online at www.ceopeoplehelpingpeople.org and at the Kirby Center Box Office during normal business hours.
• Luzerne County Attorney Susan Sernak Martinelli and her family are collecting blankets, food and clothing that will be driven on Monday to Seaside Heights, N.J.
Anyone willing to help this weekend should drop off what they can at any of four locations:
• Stephanie's Greens ‘N Things, 6 N. Broad St., West Hazleton (9 a.m.-5 p.m.);
• Sernak Farms, RD1 Quakake Road, Weatherly (8 a.m.-5 p.m.). Bring items to donations table at Roadside Farm Market stand;
• Martinelli residence, 39 Woodmere Drive, Drums (call ahead, 788-1865);
• Safari Plaza Citgo, 547 North Hunter Highway, Drums.
• Misericordia University's campus ministry is collecting money and items to be sent to New York through Nov. 21. For additional information on the donation drive, call 674-6495.
The school has also sent two vans full of items to New York and a group of students are spending the weekend there helping with cleanup efforts.