Those devastated by Superstorm Sandy will be comforted thanks to the generosity of the Bishop Gadsden nonprofit retirement community and several Lowcountry residents.
Community members gathered Saturday to load a Kenmar Express tractor-trailer full of gently used refrigerators, microwaves, washers, dryers and stoves.
The appliances are on their way to New Jersey to help furnish homes left in the superstorm’s wake.
Bishop Gadsden pulled the 300 appliances, or about 54 complete sets, from its James Island property as part of a renovation project.
The community planned to sell the items, but Daniel Larrabee, Bishop Gadsden’s director of environmental services, said he advocated a better use after the Church of the Holy Cross urged him and other members to extend a helping hand to Sandy victims.
“It all just grew from there by everyone doing one little thing they could to help,” Larrabee said.
Holy Cross member Christine Donovan helped organize the effort.
Donovan and about 20 other people returned Monday from a five-day trip to help rebuild homes in New Jersey, and took a few spare appliances to those in urgent need then.
Donovan said she remembered being grateful for the help the Lowcountry received after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Now, she said, it was time for her to do the same for someone else.
“When we got to the barrier islands by the Jersey coast, it looked just like Hugo,” Donovan said. “It smelled different. It didn’t have that pluff-mud smell. But the devastation, it was the same. And all the people were just walking around in circles. They didn’t know what to do.”
“We’ve been hit by other hurricanes. They hadn’t,” said Karen Tetrev, who also went on the trip. “They were bewildered.”
“It was so nice to be able to say we went through this 23 years ago in our town, and people on our team had their homes devastated just like yours. We wanted to let them know that we went through this, but we came back,” she said.
Another Holy Cross member, Philip Stender of the Panalpina freight company, reached out to KMX Logistics and Synchronized Transportation to get Bishop Gadsden’s items to New Jersey.
Michael Garrison of Greenville was charged with driving the appliances on Saturday’s load.
His route usually takes him to the Chicago area, but he said a 13-hour drive to New Jersey is a small thing he can do to help a greater cause.
About 15 Porter-Gaud School students gathered at Bishop Gadsden Saturday to help load the truck.
Max Howard, 17, is a senior at the school. He said his 20-year-old sister was in New York for school when Sandy hit.
“When you have family directly affected by something like that, you feel the necessity to come out and do stuff like this,” Howard said.
Donovan said she was especially touched that the high school students were willing to give up their Saturday to give back.
“This is where true heroism comes into play,” Donovan said of the teens’ efforts.
“This is them being real men.”
Once in New Jersey, the items will be stored at Harbor Freight Transport in Newark while several church groups distribute them to homes in need.
About half of the 300 appliances were loaded in Saturday’s trip. A second truck will transport the rest of the items this month.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/ celmorePC