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December 9th, 2012


Once again United Nations Staff Members volunteered their services to assist in the Relief and Restoration efforts organized by the Give Them a Hand Foundation/United African Congress, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook. Our eight-member team gathered at the Visitation Church of the Holy Virgin Mary, the site of the day’s distribution activities, starting before mid-day. There the team met with volunteers and officials from FEMA, the Catholic Charities and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and his organization. Assemblyman Ortiz represents New York’s 51st District which encompasses Red Hook.

From late morning to approximately 2 p.m., our team assisted in bringing out the supplies and food items from storage and setting up two separate distribution points. In one area needy residents could collect supplies including disposable diapers, blankets, cleaning materials and gift bags of nutritional supplies. The second distribution area, staffed primarily by our volunteers, was responsible for distributing the food items including bottled water, many different types of canned foods and ready-meals and boxed/bagged foods, baby food and even food for pets.

To facilitate orderly distribution, the team first made up several hundred bags of food items picked randomly from a number of pallets and stacked boxes donated previously by supermarkets, grocery shops and individuals and charitable organizations.

From 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. our team handed out the bags to the needy persons, many of whom had been waiting in line in the pouring rain from as early as 11 a.m. that morning.

Our team worked tirelessly and diligently and our efforts were highly appreciated by FEMA and the Catholic Charities, who also expressed their pleasure that we stayed the course throughout the day. Their experience is that many volunteers will stop in for an hour or two but then leave, forcing the sponsors to train incoming volunteers throughout the day which often slows the whole process.

Thanks go to the UN Staff (and UN Retirees) for their concern for the welfare of the victims of Hurricane Sandy and for giving their time to this noble cause.

Gordon Tapper

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