OUTPOURING OF DONATIONS AT CLINTON-HILL/FORT GREENE HURRICANE KATRINA DRIVE OVERWHELMS COMMUNITY
Photograph by Laura Geiser
In photo (from left to right): Andre Wilkins from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, volunteer Trevor Robinson, and organizer Max Smart sort and pack donations from Saturday’s food and clothing drive in Fort Greene Park.
On Saturday, September 17, The Clinton-Hill/Fort Greene Community Hurricane Katrina Drive in Fort Greene Park netted an outpouring of community response with hundreds of local residents contributing goods and volunteering to help with the sorting and packaging of the goods. Collected items included hundreds of boxes of clothing, canned goods, toiletries, children’s books, diapers, cleaning products and other items. Three wheelchairs were donated, along with assorted radios, cell phones and blankets. The collected goods will be delivered to the NAACP offices in Jackson, Mississippi and Baton Rouge, Louisiana later this week.
Max Smith, Angela Starita, David Winner and Coleen Julius—four Clinton-Hill residents who felt compelled to take action on behalf of the relief effort—held the drive inside the park entrance at DeKalb Avenue. Organizers applauded the diverse community for its generous support.
“We reached out to popular businesses along DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues and they responded. Everyone from the Parks department, the local schools, including P.S. 20, the Ronald Edmond School of the Performing Arts and Brooklyn Tech High School helped us get the word out,” said Max Smith.
The group cleared a major hurdle when Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz put them in touch with Mark Jacobson of Grocery Haulers, a nationwide grocery distribution trucking company, who donated a 48-foot tractor-trailer, a driver and the fuel to cover the cost of the trip.
“The generosity’s of our city’s greatest borough was on display this weekend,” said Borough President Markowitz. “Individuals of all backgrounds and walks of life came out to show their support to our sister cities in their times of crisis.” Markowitz stopped by the event to donate several of his own suits.
Markowitz commended all of the businesses who opened their hearts and wallets, including Grocery Haulers and Soula, a high-end shoe boutique in Boerum Hill that donated hundreds of new shoes.
Drive organizers said they were responding to news stories showing that three weeks after the hurricane there are still individuals in certain areas of the Gulf who are without clothing and other basic goods.
“The dead bodies and images of hungry children no longer dominate the news,” said Angela Starita, a Clinton-Hill resident and event organizer, “but the reality is homeless families, children with missing parents, and mile-long lines. Getting essential supplies directly into the hands of families is the difference between hope and despair.”
The group’s partners in the event included the Jackson, Mississippi and Baton Rouge branches of the NAACP, which will accept and distribute the goods to survivors in Jackson, Baton Rouge and the outlying areas. The goal is to get the goods to survivors who are unable to get to centralized relief centers and are therefore not being served. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a partner in the drive, provided a number of volunteers who helped pack and sort the goods and provided storage for the collected donations at their Boerum Hill headquarters. St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church provided much-needed supplies and popular Clinton-Hill/Fort Greene businesses like I-Shebeen Madiba South African Restaurant, Sushi D’s, Location Realty, TB Realty, Malchijah Hats, Impressions Hair Salon and Pratt Area Community Council acted as collection points in the week leading up to the Drive.
Community members wishing to connect with other Brooklynites to organize local relief efforts can email BrooklynitesRespond@brooklynbp.nyc.gov with their ideas and resources.