Sandy victims receiving help from RI


Without hesitation, local businesses, organizations, schools and churches have come to the aid of Sandy victims in the Ocean State and beyond.

Melanie Flamand, co-owner of the Carousel Grill at 859 Oakland Beach Avenue, has planned a benefit concert, “Rhody to the Rescue,” to take place Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m. at her establishment. The entry fee is $20 per person, with funds to be donated to the Rhode Island Red Cross.

The event will feature raffles, food and live entertainment, including solo artist Spogga Hash, Ryan Rice, lead singer of the newly formed cover band Bad Jack, as well as Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch, to name a few.

“It feels great to be able to help,” said vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player Jeff Byrd. The band was nominated for several distinctions in the 2011 Limelight Magazine Music Awards, an annual ceremony held by the online music publication. “To do something that you love while at the same time helping people is extremely rewarding. I am grateful to be able to contribute to the cause.”

Also, non-profit organizations are helping out. Among them are Project Undercover and Serve Rhode Island.

Project Undercover, which was established 20 years ago, buys and collects hundreds of thousands of new diapers, socks and underwear each year and distributes them throughout Rhode Island community action programs, as well as family shelters in Providence.

Richard Fleischer, board president and co-founder of Project Undercover, said the organization donated about 3,000 diapers, 2,000 children’s shirts and 500 pairs of socks to New Yorkers in need.

He said they had some extra supplies that they keep for emergency purposes and the board, which consists of Rhode Islanders, viewed Sandy as just that.

“The board decided that it would be better sent to New York than it was sitting in a warehouse in Providence waiting for an emergency because this is, indeed, an emergency,” said Fleischer. He also said there are 45,000 Rhode Island children under the age of 7 who live under the poverty level. “You have kids with no socks going to school and kids with no diapers. We actively serve that community. We work with the community action programs and see the people picking up the diapers and that’s a very rewarding thing.” More information about the organization can be found at

Serve Rhode Island, established in 1994, is the state’s volunteer center and commission for national and community service. In an email, Executive Director Bernie Beaudreau reported that volunteers have been instrumental in the storm cleanup, as they have been clearing “mountains of sand and debris” left by Sandy.

He wrote that by the end of the day on Sunday, 697 volunteers served in the Misquamicut Beach community since the storm. The organization is also taking monetary donations for victims, which can be mailed to Serve Rhode Island Suite 202, 655 Broad Street, Providence, RI 02907.

“We are neighbors helping neighbors and everyone has a part to play today and into the future,” Beaudreau wrote. “Our work will continue with your support. Your contribution will help ensure that we are able to coordinate volunteer teams for months to come as the cleanup and recovery of homes, businesses and the beach environment will be ongoing through next spring.”

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, parishioners of Sts. Rose and Clement Church collected new and used winter coats. By about noon that day, they had rounded up 240 winter coats, which will be distributed to people from Rhode Island and New Jersey.

Moreover, Cardi’s Furniture teamed up with Arpin Van Lines and several other local businesses Friday to donate and deliver items including, dry goods, canned food, bottled water and shoes, winter clothing and blankets to victims in New York and New Jersey. They collected goods from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day. Some donations came several days prior to the collection times and through the weekend.

Pete Cardi, who owns and operates the furniture store with his two brothers Nick and Ron, said 10 trucks were in progress as of yesterday afternoon. So far, three trucks have reached their destination points. He said he anticipates it will take the rest of the week to get everything to New York and New Jersey.

“Logistically, the target changes because we had an organization to bring it to and then, unfortunately, the organization had a power problem, so we had to go somewhere else,” said Cardi. “But Arpin’s getting it done. We just keep plugging along.”

He said that Ocean State Job Lot came through with a huge donation of clothing and there were a lot of single donations of winter clothes.

Cardi also said that they first teamed up with Arpin Van Lines for Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake that rocked Haiti. The effort to help victims of Sandy marks the third time the two companies have joined forces.

“They are a great company,” Cardi said of Arpin. “They have the logistics to get it all over the country, and really, all over the world. Arpin is a great, great partner and I can’t say enough about Peter and David Arpin and the whole crew. We’re proud to be Rhode Islanders and proud to be part of the community. We are the smallest state, but everyone here truly has the biggest hearts. It makes you feel good.”

Dean Scanlon, owner of L’Attitude Modern Eatery in Cranston, delivered a truckload of items during the weekend, some of which he collected himself, in his company van.

During a brief phone interview yesterday afternoon, Scanlon was on his way home from making a delivery to Brooklyn, N.Y. He said they didn’t enter Rockaway, where the food was to be distributed, but was told it resembled a “war zone.”

In support of the effort, Hoxsie School students raised and donated $430, plus “hundreds” of canned goods, clothes and other needed materials, which were brought to Cardi’s Friday.

Susan Houle, a sixth grade teacher at Hoxsie, heard a radio interview during which the Cardi brothers informed people of the drive. She then asked her school to help and principal Gary McCoombs alerted parents.

“What is impressive is that this whole initiative was organized in only two days,” Susan’s husband John Houle, president of JH Communications, said via email.

Additionally, Panera Bread/Howely Bread came to the rescue of Long Island, N.Y. victims by delivering baked goods. On Tuesday, Wendy Kopp, the company’s marketing director, and Bill Shea, their Connecticut district manager, drove a Panera Catering van full of bread, bagels and pastries made by its bakery-cafes in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, to New York. The Red Cross shelter at Nassau Community College in Garden City, which is assisting victims, received the donation.

Joel Leyden, who works with Israel Humanitarian Aid, a global, non-profit organization that helps coordinate with emergency management organizations in New York, assisted Panera Bread in the effort. In a press release, Kopp said, “Joel is a customer of our Panera Bread bakery-cafe in Manchester, Connecticut. He reached out to me at about 5 p.m. on Monday with this emergency request and within hours we had our cafes on board and a plan in place. We picked up all the food on Tuesday morning and by noon; Bill and I were on the road to Long Island. It wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ we could do it but how, and it worked.”


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