In just five days' time, a Facebook plea to the mighty masses connected with Bishop's Orchards Farm Market helped drive in a barn-filling bounty of donations for Staten Island, New York, folks still reeling from Superstorm Sandy.
On Nov. 16, Bishop family members John DellaVentura and Matt Healy headed south in two donated box trucks, each packed to the rafters with contributions including blankets, jackets, industrial cleaning supplies, baby products (diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, and clothing), undergarments for all ages, bottled water, and a wealth of other much-needed supplies.
Both men are sons-in-law of Keith Bishop, co-CEO of Bishops Orchards. DellaVentura is the husband of Bishop's sixth generation family member Sarah Bishop DellaVentura; Healy is married to sixth-generation Carrie Bishop Healy.
A Brookline, Massachusetts, firefighter, Healy first got the donation drive rolling at his firehouse and through his local union. DellaVentura then picked up the ball and brought the idea here. The idea was to use Bishop's as a collection point and its Facebook page, which has 12,000 fans, as a communications center.
"We started talking. I told him I was doing a collection at the fire station and they started one up here and it absolutely ballooned," said Healy.
Healy was motivated to organize the drive by many stories coming out of the storm devastation, which leveled whole neighborhoods on Staten Island, but he said one really "hit home."
"It was one story after the hurricane about two boys that got swept away from their mother?They're the same ages as my nieces [and] his kids," said Healy of DellaVentura's children. "That really hit home for me and made me want to do something."
DellaVentura said asking Bishop's patrons to add to the donation drive was an easy choice.
"It was a no-brainer. When you have a business like Bishop's that has so much local traffic, we thought, 'Why not start a collection here?' We got it going, and I hate to say it was little effort, but the community got together so quickly. In a week's time, we have a barn full of donations," said DellaVentura.
Word of the collection was done 100 percent through Facebook and social networking. The donations are being distributed at collection centers on Staten Island, with coordination through the Siller Foundation, a 9-11 Fallen Firefighters aid association contacted by Healy.
Sarah DellaVentura noted it was "a chance for communities in both Massachusetts and Connecticut to come together and help to rebuild the lives of those who lost so much."
Healy drove on Nov. 15 from Massachusetts to Guilford in a U-Haul packed with donations and paid for by his union (which also paid for the gas for the round trip to Staten Island). He and DellaVentura were joined by a handful of volunteers who helped sort and load hundreds more donated items filling Bishop's "Little Red Barn."
After loading up a second box truck (donated by Bishop's), DellaVentura and Healy set off for Staten Island in the early morning hours on Nov. 16. Once they made their deliveries, they said they hoped they could stick around and offer their help where needed.
"We're going to try to get some work done on the ground," said Healy.
For an update on the Staten Island delivery day, visit Bishop's Orchards Farm Market's Facebook page, www.bishopsorchards.com/bishopsorchardsfarmmarket.