Sandy relief efforts amp up

The fifth-graders, along with their preschool buddies, at St. Columba School designed, drew and colored these cards to raise money for schools on the East Coast affected by the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy. All proceeds from the sales will be donated to the cause. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Karen Rowan

The fifth-graders, along with their preschool buddies, at St. Columba School designed, drew and colored these cards to raise money for schools on the East Coast affected by the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy. All proceeds from the sales will be donated to the cause.

The estimated $50 billion in damage left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and the subsequent nor’easter is hard for human brains to comprehend. But what we can understand is that the losses are enormous, and recovery is going to take a long time.

Local efforts are gearing up to assist with the relief.

The children at St. Columba School decided to get involved. The fifth-graders, in collaboration with their preschool buddies, designed, drew, colored and produced 1,000 Christmas cards in four designs to sell for their contribution.

Three cards feature a snowman (I like the one with the striped socks, myself), and the other depicts a Nativity scene from the stained-glass windows at St. Columba Catholic Church. Each package of 10 cards includes three of each snowman design and one Nativity scene and is for sale for $10.

And how can one go wrong with these messages?

“This Christmas will be better with you,” reads one. “Remember Christmas isn’t all about Presents, it’s about Jesus. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” says another. Or, “Happy Holiday with great hope,” and “Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday. Snow is falling gently, It is the Christmas season!”

The students will be selling their cards at several locations during Noel Night from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, including outside of Starbucks Coffee Co. in the 500 block of Main Ave., and in front of Cyprus Café in the 700 block of East Second Ave.

The cards also will be available at the St. Columba Craft Bazaar from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the school’s gym at 1801 East Third Ave.

Cards also are for sale at the new Urban Market, 865 Main Ave.

The students are donating 100 percent of the money raised to be split between three causes, St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Rockaway Beach, N.J., St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Belle Harbor, N.Y., and Catholic Charities Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. (Checks to any of those organizations also are mighty welcome.)

If you’d be interested in allowing the students to sell their cards at your business, or would like to match funds raised to maximize the students’ gift, call Karen Rowan at 769-2288.

Reinforcing young people’s instincts of generosity is one of the best ways we have to raise generous adults.

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Wishing for snow as they blow out their birthday candles are Marty Rabeno, Cyrilla Kelby, Renate Widder, Ann Allsbrook, Greg Farley, Carl Johnson, David Ottman, John Schafer, Lilian Tucker, Jennifer Walker, Benjamin Andrea, Harry Jarrell, Owen Craft, Ella Roth and Kyla Patterson.

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The adults are getting into the generosity for Superstorm Sandy relief, too. Mary Jo Rakowski and her sister, Sandra Fleming, are going all out to create the Joisey Girls 4 Jersey Shore Relief party, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge 507, at the corner of Ninth Street and East Second Avenue. (Go in the Ninth Street entrance.)

Guests are invited to get their best Joisey on, so women are encouraged to slather on the blue eyeliner and go bouffant.

Get your photo taken with Jersey natives Frank Sinatra and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. Dance to DJ ColdStar, who has promised to mix in some Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Ole Blue Eyes himself for your East Coast-style dancing pleasure. Rehydrate with East Coast favorites Snapple and Yoo Hoos. Bid on a dozen select silent auction items, including prints from Karyn Gabaldon and Claude Steelman, a private Zumba party and paddleboard lessons.

And for true Joisey aficionados, test your accent on four words or phrases commonly heard in the Garden State. Jersey natives Marc Goldfarb and Mike Crouchelli will serve as judges.

If you’re wondering about the prizes, you’ll have to attend Saturday night to find out what Rakowski means when she says they’re “definitely” Jerseyesque.

The sisters are asking for a minimum donation of $10, which will go to the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross for its Superstorm Sandy relief efforts along the Jersey shore. They’re working with Red Cross Executive Director Cindi Shank to get the help there as efficiently as possible. (Obviously, once again, if you can donate more, please do so.)

They’re also collecting hard goods – items the stores just can’t keep in stock because they’re in such demand. The sisters are planning to rent a vehicle to get the items across the country.

On the list? Tilex is at the top, along with heavy duty sponges and scrubbers, work gloves, heavy duty garbage bags, antiseptic wipes, clean brand-new underwear and socks, warm gloves and personal hygiene items including toothbrushes and toothpaste. A local school is holding a hat/mitten/glove drive for kids who need help to stay warm this winter, and the women will take the proceeds from that drive as well.

The number of displaced pets is beyond imagining as well. Rakowski and Fleming are collecting dog and cat food, clean, gently used towels and blankets for bedding, treats, collars and leashes for the four-legged companions who find themselves homeless right now.

People don’t understand why people just can’t go to the store and buy this stuff, Rakowski said. But in addition to stores not being able to keep these key items in stock, many folks still can’t get into work or their homes because of extensive road damage and insurance is not going to begin to cover the costs, so money is a concern.

Why, you might ask, are Rakowski and Fleming doing this? They have cousins, aunts, uncles and other assorted family members and friends living up and down the state. While they live mostly north and inland of the worst damage, high winds dropped trees on garages and condos of loved ones. But they know folks who suffered egregious losses.

“The infrastructure is so damaged, some people won’t have power for eight months,” Rakowski said. “And in some towns, entire beaches moved to Main Street. People can’t go in because they’re worried about sinkholes in the sand.”

Most of the people who suffered the worst losses are the year-round hardworking locals, too.

“I don’t in any way want to minimize the damage Hurricane Katrina did,” Rakowski said. “But this superstorm did significantly more damage, and it seems to have disappeared off people’s radar.”

Rakowski and Fleming are going to make sure it doesn’t disappear from Durango’s radar. And I guess I’m doing my small part to make sure, too.

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Sneaking kisses under the first of the Christmas mistletoe for their anniversaries are Robert and Karen Anderson, Kurt and Deb Campbell, John and Jan Patton, Robert and Carol Simmons and Anthony and Ani Gannone.

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Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

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