Twenty years ago, Sharon Marks was living in South Florida when the region was devastated by Hurricane Andrew.
Marks, now a Pinebrook resident, watched as the East Coast was pummeled by Superstorm Sandy. Marks, who has lived in the Park City area on a full-time basis for a couple years, recalled her experience in South Florida during the hurricane as she took in the coverage from the East Coast as the recent storm hit.
She is now rallying for the continuing relief effort along the East Coast, helping organize special-education students at Park City High School as they gather supplies and items to cheer up the people impacted.
"There's just a lot of need everywhere," she said, recalling the traumatic time when Hurricane Andrew hit. "It's a lot of devastation. Your head spins forever and ever."
Her partner's son is a student in the special-education program at the high school, influencing her to work with the program in the relief effort. The collection starts on Wednesday and is scheduled to run until Dec. 6. According to a flier announcing the collection, the organizers hope to gather items like:
The items must be new.
The group is also collecting monetary donations to assist in paying for the shipments to the East Coast.
Collection points will be in the main office at the high school, in the lunchroom and in the classroom of special education teacher Laura Huggins, room #110.
"The teddy bears were my initial thought because they can bring comfort to people," Marks said. "A teddy bear, they're just there. You can hold them. You can hug them."
She said she hopes to collect 10 to 12 boxes of items to be sent to the recovery zone.
"They all need stuff. We'll do our best," she said, adding, "I'm hoping Park City will rise to the occasion."
Her experience during Hurricane Andrew remains vivid. She said she needed to drive 50 miles for three weeks afterward to take showers. She lost electricity for three weeks where she lived. A storm like Hurricane Andrew or Superstorm Sandy "turns your life around," she said.
"It took years and years and years to rebuild. It never comes back the same," she said.
The items collected at the high school will be sent to three organizations along the East Coast -- the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City in New Jersey, the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City and the Association to Benefit Children, which is also in New York City.
At the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, damage remains from the storm. The organization has two facilities in Atlantic City. Both were damaged. Hudson Lee, the director of operations, said the damage estimate is close to $200,000 at one of the facilities. The building suffered extensive water damage, he said. Games, school supplies, art supplies and computers were damaged, Lee said.
The organization serves approximately 450 youths between the ages of 5 and 18. Lee said the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City has received a variety of donations since the storm, at least several each week since it hit.
"It shows a lot of people are passionate and concerned," Lee said, adding, "People really do care."
For more information about the collection at the high school, contact Marks at 801-793-8823.