As Hurricane Sandy restoration efforts continue throughout West Islip, two major fundraisers that started Saturday have collected thousands of items and organizers said more is needed to help local families affected by the storm.
Faculty members, and students are running a clothing and food drive in the cafeteria of Oquenock Elementary School on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
Also, the Women of West Islip (WOWI) are also collecting clothing, food and personal hygene items at the fire department headquarters on Union Blvd. WOWI's efforts began on Saturday and the group will be back at the fire department on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As of Saturday afternoon, organizers at both events said the donations were already pouring in.
"We have about 50 or 60 volunteers working here right now. The entire cafeteria is filled with donations," said David Kaufman, West Islip High School Band Director and Music Theory Instructor and organizer of the drive.
Though the generosity of the volunteers and donors has been "overwhleming," Kaufman said help is still needed. Donations of food, clothing, and basic toiletries will be accepted.
At the fire department on Saturday, WOWI volunteers echoed Kaufman's sentiments, noting the response has been strong.
"I'm not surprised by the response we have seen," said Kelly McLoughlin-Fisher, a member of Women of West Islip. "In a time of need, the West Islip community always comes together."
Despite the communications challenges faced following Sandy, McLoughlin-Fisher said social networking and local media such as West Islip Patch were key in getting the word out to the community. They also thanked Board of Education Vice President Annmarie LaRosa for getting the school district to call local residents and inform them of the clothing and food drive.
Greg Sleter contributed to this story.