There’s nothing like adversity to show what people are really all about, good or bad. And we have the misfortune of living in interesting times.
Hurricane Sandy. A contentious federal election that seems to have left the losing side as intransigent as before. Surprise nor’easter Athena. New cuts to the city budget that are going to hit valuable social services. A volatile international situation that makes New York City a target.
Who knows what’s coming next? It’s no wonder zombie apocalypse has become such a common theme in popular entertainment.
But here in Queens — where yes, there is a “zombie walk” set for Saturday — the multiple crises brought on by Hurricane Sandy really have brought out the best in countless numbers of people.
The Queens Chronicle office has been flooded with donations to our food and supply drive for victims of the storm in South Queens and the Rockaways. Our reception area and conference room are both overflowing with all kinds of contributions, from people near and far. And of course we’re not the only ones.
Some of the donations have been truly remarkable and come as a surprise, like the 100 or so bags of clothes, food, toiletries and every other necessity donated by a condominium complex in upstate Tarrytown. Or the 10 bags filled with baby wipes and first-aid kits sent over by Premier Care of Maspeth. Or the dozens of pairs of high-grade designer shoes and boots given by Manhattan-based Miz Mooz. We’re talking about stuff that retails for $200 and up.
Company official Cheryl Matson summed up the situation as well as anyone when she said, “With many people displaced from their homes with little to nothing left, the New York metropolitan area is still suffering from the effects of Sandy. The community has come together to get through this challenging moment, and Miz Mooz is proud to be a part of that effort.”
Coming together is exactly what’s happening. Down at the St. Helen School in Howard Beach, for example, volunteers are providing an extremely efficient charity operation, giving people food and supplies at various stations that are running like clockwork, thanks their staffers’ dedication and forethought. People are coming to St. Helen to get what they need from as nearby as the storm-damaged Howard Beach Senior Center, located across the street, and as far as the Rockaways. Pia Toscano, the Howard Beach singing sensation who made a top-10 showing last year on “American Idol,” flew in from California to take part in the operation Tuesday. And Toscano wasn’t there to grab a photo op — she bought a stack of pizza pies to feed the hungry and lugged around boxes of supplies like everyone else.
These are the kind of things that have been going on ever since the storm struck Oct. 29. City and state officials, including some whose offices were destroyed by the storm, have been getting necessities to their constituents who lost everything. So has just about every service group you can think of — along with every church, synagogue and temple. Even the New York Press Association, of which the Queens Chronicle is a proud member, got the City University of New York to donate 10 Apple computers to two newspapers whose offices were flooded out, The Forum in Howard Beach and The Wave in Rockaway.
Interesting times indeed. But with the exception of a few price gougers — $600 a night for a chain motel room in Queens; are you serious? — people everywhere are showing that they’re up to the task of getting through them. It’s quite a sight to see.