UPDATE: Stafford Relief Center Provides for Victims; While Volunteer Groups Assist in the Clean Up

Stafford Center in need of new shoes, bedding, tools and cleaning supplies; will make Thanksgiving baskets.

UPDATE: Stafford Shelter Director Betti Anne McVey told Patch this week the center is in need of all types of cleaning supplies, especially dust masks and sprays for mold removal, Clorox wipes and laundry detergent.

In addition, as people are moving back in, there is a need for donations of household supplies like dishwashing liquid, towels, buckets, large trash cans and new bedding. Also basic hand tools, flashlights and extention cords.

"We also need shoes," she said. So many people lost all but the pair they were wearing when they evacuated,she said. All clothing items should be new, in lieu of shoes or clothing the center is also accepting gift cards to local stores to allow people to buy items that fit.

In addition, the center will be preparing Thanksgiving baskets for distribution next week with all the fixings for a turkey dinner and a certificate for a turkey, said McVey."We will be closed on Thursday and Friday for our staff and volunteers to be with their families, so people should pick up their baskets by Wednesday," she said.

On the cleanup front, the Beach Haven West Community Assoication and S.T.A.R.T. teams will be out in Stafford and on LBI this weekend. Their numbers and emails are below for those still needing assistance or wishing to volunteer.


“The people that come in look shell shocked,” said Betti Anne McVey, coordinator of the Stafford Storm Relief Center on Saturday. “You can see it in their eyes that they lost a lot, if not everything.”

McVey, Stafford's Recreation Director, along with hundreds of other volunteers are running the relief center 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 775 East Bay Avenue, the site of the old town hall.

Nearly every inch of the site is being used as a one-stop center for items that are being dropped off, inspected, stocked and then distributed to residents who are in need.

There are even trailers in the parking lot filled with cleaning supplies and larger items, such as furniture and household goods with more coming in constantly.

“We are asking that people hold off on the furniture and household goods for now. Right now people need food, cleaning supplies, first aid kits and flashlights,” said McVey. “Also diapers and other baby and kids items, as we have a lot of families with small children in need,” she added.  

In addition, the center is supplying the long-term shelter at St. Mary’s Parish Center near McKinley Avenue and sending pet food and other related items to the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter at 321 Hay Rd. - near the Pet Smart/Costco shopping center.

The relief center is available to anyone who has been affected by the storms in in the Southern Ocean County area, said McVey. People can register at the reception desk and then be assisted in gathering what they need and helped loading into their vehicles.

Debbie Budesa, who is working as the receptionist/screener, said one of the most difficult things is to get people take what they really need. "I've talked to people who lost a lot and all they ask for is some garbage bags" she said.

Knowing that they are in need of more, Budesa and the other volunteers encourage these people to get everything they truly need before leaving.

There are three rooms filled with clothes for men, women and children. The items separated, sized and neatly folded almost as they would be found in a department store.

Volunteers were stocking pantries of canned goods just as they would be found in a market. Canned vegetables, tuna, soups, pasta and more are all in there waiting for those who need it.

Cleaning supplies, OTC meds, like cough medicine and vitamins; toiletries, toothbrushes and paper products fill another room. There were even basic hand tools, shovels and rakes leaning on a wall.

In addition to tangibile items, McVey said they are trying to look after people’s emotional needs as well. “Some people have donated gift cards that we use to get something we might not have but will help out,” she said.

One elderly woman whose house was flooded was somewhat perplexed and then became distraught about people tracking mud in as they cleaned out her possessions. So the center used a gift card to buy her floor and door mats. “It was very important to her, so we did what we could,” said McVey.

High school guidance counselors will be on hand this week on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for children as well as adults, she said.

You can contact the Center at 609-597-5113 or 609-597-4213. McVey said they are still looking for volunteers and you can also call about what particular items are currently needed or in short supply.

Meanwhile out in Beach Haven West, Joanna and Tim Connelly of the Beach Haven West Community Association were working in conjunction with START – Stafford Teachers and Residents Together to send out clean up teams to victims' homes helping to carry out furniture and other items out to the street.

Most of the volunteers were local residents, students or summer homeowners themselves. However, Emily Huskins, who saw the BHWCA page on Facebook, contacted Joanna and then drove up from Baltimore. “I grew up in Manalapan and just felt I had to do something to help,” she said.

What she found when she arrived was what she could only describe as "surreal." “People basically now have their entire home and lives lying in a heap out front,” she said.

Therese Montuori, Weaver Drive, couldn’t say enough about the START team of students who were working on her house. “They were great, angels, absolutely great,” she said. In addition, Mike Dunlea was arranging to have an adult crew come back and take up her carpets.

Dunlea is a teacher at the Stafford Township School District, who along with Joe Mangino and his wife founded START. He said he couldn’t be more proud of his kids.

When asked, the students collectively said it was important to help out and as one put it, “It’s really sad for these people but it was fun and felt good to help them.”

You can reach START at 908-783-2050 or 609-488-0513. START teams are working on LBI as well as Stafford for the near future.

Those needing assistance or looking to volunteer this coming weekend can also contact the BHWCA at bhwca@yahoo.com.

Joanna Connelly also wanted to get information out to the Hispanic community

Estamos aquí para ayudar.

Si usted necesita ayuda con la eliminación de los artículos para el hogar dañados por el huracán Sandy, o alguna pregunta para asistencia por favor póngase en contacto con nosotros.

Nuestro e-mail es bhwca@yahoo.com.  Visitenos en la pagina de Facebook Beach Haven West Community Assocation o llame al (917) 929-9900.

On a personal note: I want to thanks the BHWCA for stopping by my house and helping me get my bedding and furniture to the curb on Sunday. I never could have done it without you folks.

Sal Sorce November 13, 2012 at 05:14 PM
FEMA just approved $127 MILLION FOR NEW JERSEY. Let's see how much really reaches the citizens who did not have flood insurance ... remember, many were told that Ocean Acres, Stafford is not a flood plain and did not need flood insurance.
Steve Moran November 13, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I misunderstood Mr. Dunlea and though he was a Barnegat teacher/Stafford resident because the students were from Barnegat.
Steve Moran November 13, 2012 at 11:00 PM
This just came in from a source, once I confirm it I will add it to the article itself. ***UPDATE! Stafford Storm Relief Center PLEASE SHARE!***** 775 East Bay Avenue, Manahawkin. (The old Stafford Township Building/Stafford Board of Ed Building) It is filled to the gills with everything including food, clothing, diapers/wipes, toys, and cleaning supplies including paper towels and TP. They no longer need donations of items but are asking that if you would like to make a donation, gift cards to local businesses – Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wawa, Target, Walmart, K-Mart, Shop Rite and even local eateries would be greatly appreciated. If you have students in need please direct them there. They don’t have much in the way of household items, but everything else is very well stocked.
Steve Moran November 13, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Pretty sure I got the phone numbers and other contact info correct as well as the fact of what he and the crews are doing.. I'm sure those facts are much more important to Mr. Dunlea.
john colli November 14, 2012 at 08:05 PM
hey sal ,thanks for being consistently negative, that sure helps


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