Season of giving: From Coney Island to India

The air has turned brisk, the days are getting shorter and we are already starting to hear Christmas music on the radio. That can only mean one thing. The season of giving is upon us. Thanksgiving is next week and we should all be grateful for everything we have in life, while also helping those in need. Which is the theme of this week’s blog post.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast at the end of October, the destruction that followed was unfathomable. The northeast is not used to these types of storms. We’ve seen what hurricanes can do in Florida, New Orleans and Louisiana, and what earthquakes can do in California, but this one hit home.

Our area was spared for the most part, but our friends only a few hours south of us were left with their homes and businesses destroyed, loved ones lost and a tremendous recovery effort ahead of them.

Many of our front office staff members have friends and family in parts of New York City, Long Island and New Jersey, or have vacationed there growing up. Each year our team visits the Brooklyn Cyclones in Coney Island and the Staten Island Yankees. Both areas that were hit hard from Sandy.

Like so many others, we felt a need to help in any way possible. First we sent down generators, extension chords and gasoline along with the Hudson Valley Renegades, to the homes of our friends who were in need.

Then we asked the Capital Region community to donate clothes and supplies that we would take down to Coney Island. Our community came through in the clutch! We filled almost half of our box office in three days, loaded it all in a van and headed down to assist with the recovery effort.

Here’s the van all loaded up and ready to go:

The drive down wasn’t too bad, but once we arrived in Coney Island, we witnessed first hand what a natural disaster can do. We pulled into the parking lot at MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, where FEMA and the Red Cross were stationed. Lines of people waited for hot food and warm clothes.

The volunteers handing out clothing and supplies were thrilled to see us arrive, and about ten people helped us unload the van and sort the items to be given out to the lines of people waiting. Once an item was placed on the table, it wasn’t more than 30 seconds before it was taken.

After the van was unloaded, we parked and took a walk around MCU Park and the boardwalk. Many of the sights we saw, have been featured all over the internet and television.

We proceeded to Tom’s Restaurant on the boardwalk to first eat lunch and then sign in to help volunteer. We were assigned to a deli located about three blocks from the boardwalk to help clear the back courtyard of the store from all the debris and ruined food/supplies from the shelves.

Obviously it was a huge mess, and something that would take weeks to clean up, but we did our best to clear out a whole section.

The National Guard has units stationed throughout the area, and at this time they were heading to a residential apartment building.

As we finished up at the deli, Pablo (the owner) thanked us for our work and we headed back to the van. One thing that was a common theme throughout the visit was the overall sense of neighbors helping neighbors. As we walked through the streets, churches were handing out clothes and hot food, groups of people were cleaning out stores and houses, and everyone was in good spirits with a “we’re in this together” attitude. The trip was extremely rewarding and we were just glad to be able to do what we can for an area in desperate need of the help.

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Now we take you on a journey from New York, to a place halfway across the world: Hyderabad, India.

Dan Carubia, one of our ushers and a long time employee, is a board member of the Friends of Christ in India organization, and he made a trip to a less-fortunate area of Hyderabad.

Dan visited the “School of Wheels,” which is a school bus that comes to the area every day for two hours to provide food & drinks and teach the children English.

Before Dan left, we gave him a box full of ValleyCats hats to hand out to the children. How about that, ValleyCats fans in India!

Dan standing in the middle behind the group of children:

He then stopped at a youth hostile, and handed out hats there also.

Next time your at the stadium this upcoming summer, be sure to say hello to Dan and ask him about his trip.

We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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