Saturday November 10, 2012

LANESBOROUGH -- Bags upon bags stuffed with toiletries, food, blankets, clothes and even some less-conventional donations are being hauled from the Lanesborough Volunteer Fire Department to the heavily damaged Breezy Point community in Queens, N.Y., today.

"We have over 10,000 pounds of stuff, easily," said Firefighter Glen Storie.

Along with his wife, Beth, he has spearheaded the local initiative to provide rations and supplies to Breezy Point, a lesser-known area in the Queens borough, where about 100 homes were destroyed in a fire Monday. They heard about it from a friend in New Jersey.

"It's one of the areas that's been the hardest hit that's been kind of forgotten," Beth Storie said. "No one's helping these people; they're busy elsewhere."

A simple call to action put on Facebook by the Stories went viral in the Berkshires and even stretched to Franklin and Hampshire counties. Donations were accepted all week.

On Friday, there was almost never a moment where donations weren't being dropped off. Some offered a shopping bag or two, and others had their cars or trucks filled to the brim with bags.

"This has been absolutely overwhelming," said Lanesbor ough Fire Chief Charlie Dur fee. "The outreach has been unbelievable. Businesses have even been stepping up to the plate without even being asked."

Donations kept coming in Friday faster than Glen Storie's sister, Debbie Storie, could sort and load them. A smaller black trailer was overloaded and the weight could have potentially damaged the trailer's wheels, so donations were moved to a larger trailer donated by DMC Racing Products. That one was filled to the brim with items Friday night.

Just about anything you can think of was donated: Bottled water, food, rubber gloves, bleach, brand-new blankets and clothes, toiletries, bags full of new toothbrushes, dog food, batteries upon batteries for the flashlights upon flashlights, chainsaws, crowbars, shovels and some other unconventional donations.

"I saw a car seat and a high-chair," Debbie Storie said. "I also saw a small microwave and a coffee pot. People won't be able to use it now since they don't have electricity, but they'll need it eventually."

Pittsfield resident Katie Lefkowitz was in one of the three cars lined up at one point Friday evening. She dropped off extra bags of diapers and diaper wipes, and old baby clothes to be donated.

"As the mother of a 17-month-old, I keep thinking about what I would do if I lost everything," Lefkowitz said.

The 10,000 pounds of rations and supplies will be split between four hauled by the Stories, Steve Sweeney, a firefighter from Richmond who is volunteering his time, and Lanesborough fire captains Max LaCasse and Timothy Sayers. It will take about four hours to get the convoy to the outskirts of Breezy Point, where guards are standing by and not permitting anyone in without the proper identification.

"About eight guys will also be staying to help out with some of the demolition," Glen Storie said.

To reach Adam Poulisse:
apoulisse@berkshireeagle.com,
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On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse