In December, my husband and I are taking our two older kids to New York for their first time. We are so excited to share this experience with them, we can’t hardly wait. My daughter has had her bag packed for months! We have been planning this trip since the summer, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t head East without thinking about how Hurricane Sandy affected those living in New York and New Jersey. In good conscience, I couldn’t take my family across the country after a recent disaster and enjoy the benefits of the Big Apple without acknowledging people were suffering and trying to rebuild their lives. Being a resident of Nevada, especially Las Vegas, during a major economic crisis and recession, in a small way, I know how that feels. Every bit, every thought, every ounce of aid helps. Not to mention, I, personally, knew way too many people who were affected by Sandy. Whether they were direct family and friends, or friends of friends of family of friends, no matter the degree of separation, when it hits home that close, you know you have an obligation to help on some level.

It was all a matter of timing as well. For years now, my girlfriends and I have been anxiously awaiting the moment where our children were old enough to understand how privelaged their lives are. It is not even a matter of how well they live; it’s a matter of how they live. Our children are blessed with great health. They are strong. They can run on their own, breathe on their own. They have very loving families. Their parents, and in most cases, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…provide for a strong family unit. You get the picture. Because we feel so blessed, we want them to understand that being who they are is not to be taken lightly. Whether it’s karma, a belief in a higher God, or gratitude to the universe, there is a strong desire to give back. And, you never know when you may need that helping hand.

Months before Sandy hit the East coast, my girlfriends and I had been talking about how we were going to provide to our own community over the holidays, and actively involve our children. Though, there are many organizations locally that need support, once we realized the devastation of the aftermath on the East coast, and how many of our direct family and friends were affected, it was too hard to ignore the obvious. A Giving Party was organized.

What is a Giving Party? It is when people in our community come together to give: time, resources, and/or monetary donations. In this instance, we felt strongly that there was an abundance of items in our house that we could give without having to buy. Those who participated were encouraged to look around for an overload of unused batteries, candles and toiletries; an abundance of gently used backpacks, mittens, blankets, and warm coats. In addition, those who could brought other supplies like rags, masks, gloves, diapers and non-perishable food items. Some offered to ship boxes, others dropped off gift cards and packing supplies. Subway of Nevada donated sandwiches, and other folks brought desserts and snacks to keep the Helpers energized.

Most importantly, it gave us all the opportunity to talk to our children about what happened. How families, just like us, were displaced and lives disrupted. We encouraged our kids to write cards and make crafts. Some of them even helped with the boxes. Several of the local Henderson and Las Vegas area schools participated by having their classrooms make cards to send. A huge thank you to Midbar Kodesh Early Childhood Center, John C. Vanderburg Elementary, and Evelyn Stuckey Elementary Schools, and Summit Ridge Day Camp. Their sweet, yet candid notes, are sure to be cherished, and hopefully offer a splash of color into a currently dreary scene.

Our Giving Party had over 16 adults and who knows how many children, 26 boxes shipped to 7 places in New Jersey and New York, and over $300 worth of Target giftcards. What helped to make a larger impact is that we pooled our resources together to accomplish more. The amount of items that came in were overwhelming. The number of people who wanted to participate was even more exciting. We did not all know each other, but we came together for a cause. I always believe in the power of numbers. When used with a positive intent, it’s a great thing.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from giving locally, but if you would like to contribute to the relief efforts from Hurricane Sandy, here are some of the places our Giving Party sent donations to:

Visitation Church
755 Mantoloking Road
Brick, New Jersey 087223

Sayerville Storm Relief
287 Cheesquake Road
Parlin, New Jersey 08859

New York Communities for Change (NYCC)
2-4 Nevins Street
2nd Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11218

Staten Island Relief
c/o St. Jacoby
5406 4th Avenue Sunset Park
Brooklyn, New York 11220

Breezy Point Co-Op
Disaster Relief Fund
c/o Lee & Kane
2175 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11234

This is another great article written by Danielle Smith of on other great efforts to participate in during the Hurricane Sandy Relief. Fortunately, because so many of our friends and family live on the East coast, we were able to stay connected to up to date information and send boxes directly to those we knew who were in need. To be able to do that, to provide a personal contact or a grass roots organization with immediate assistance made everyone at the Giving Party feel as though we were able to act in the moment, and cut through the red tape. When you are across the country, there is a tendency to feel removed from what’s really happening.

“When you have a room full of moms who are multi-taskers and over-achievers, the power of getting things done and organized in record time is amazing!”

Ashlea Goddard, Giving Party participant

Our efforts may have seem big to us, but really they most likely only made a slight dent in the amount of aid needed at this time. But darn it, it felt good to come together, united for a similar cause, especially after a very heated and divided election year. No matter what, when we find something in common it speaks volumes and together we can accomplish so much when that energy is directed to achieve one goal. This time that goal was to give.