Byram comes to the aid of Harvey-hit Texas Other communities, individuals also help
Byram Police Officer Dan Dewald helps Sharon Rawlins of Byram and Ruth Muensen of Sparta load a van to be taken to East Hanover to trucks to carry the donations to Texas.
Photos by Joyce bambach
By Rose Sgarlato BYRAM — What started as a small local group trying to collect items for Harvey relief turned into a massive effort thanks to social media and the Byram Township Police. “Our records clerk is part of an organization that started collecting donations for Texas. The response was overwhelming, so they asked the police to help be a collection point,” said Byram Township Chief of Police Pete Zabita. Zabita is referring to American Patriots III (APIII) that started a Go Fund Me page and linked it to Byram PD’s Facebook page. More space was needed. So, last Wednesday afternoon, the Byram Police Department set up the collection point outside the station. Posting the info on the department’s Facebook page was probably the game changer. “By Friday afternoon, 60,000 viewed the post,” Zabita said. “People came from many towns: Vernon, Pequannock and as far as Pennsylvania to drop off items. The amount of donations collected far exceeded their ability to ship.” Once at the station, volunteers sorted and organized items. It soon became clear that more trucks would be needed so collectively five trailers with help from the Byram Fire Department and DPW were utilized to move the goods. “It was a lot of people calling on friends and resources to help out. Officer Thomas Dellicker coordinated the collection point and was connected to a trucking company in Netcong,” Zabita said. Great Northern Truck Lines of Netcong donated a tractor trailer for the transportation of the goods to a warehouse in East Hanover where donations were consolidated. From there, the items were further sorted in categories of food, clothing by category, water, etc and sent to Haam Ministries in Humble, Texas. “The Facebook page was an opportunity for us to give a little something back and we helped sort it out," Zabita said. "But it started out from American Patriots and the many people along the way.” Updates on any further efforts towards Harvey relief will be posted on Byram Police Department’s Facebook page. Collections for Harvey are going on in at least two other places in Sussex County. The Lafayette School at 178 Beaver Run Road in Lafayette is accepting donations of school and classroom items, like notebooks, pencils and backpacks until this friday, Sept. 8. Donations may be dropped off at the school's main office. In Franklin, at the Christian Faith Fellowship Church at 3188 Route 94, church leaders said they have connected with local relief centers in Houston, Texas that will be distributing supplies to local families in need. The church is sending a 53’ tractor trailer full of donations and is calling on the help of residents. The church will be accepting donations of new and unopened items which can be dropped off at the church at any time through Sept. 13. The organizers ask that items be in boxes and may include: new towels/washcloths; new underwear; new socks; new t-shirts; toiletries: bar soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, Q-tips, cotton balls, razors, shaving cream; toilet paper; feminine products; first aid items: band aids, peroxide, neosporin; bug spray; hand sanitizer; diapers for seniors and children; baby wipes; non-perishable food; water; Gatorade; baby food; baby formula; pet food: cat food, dog food; cleaning supplies: bleach, paper towels; gloves: latex, non-latex, construction; gas blowers; wet vacuums; dust masks; box fans; rubber boots; generators; brooms; mops; hammers; tarps; extension cords; sheetrock knives; empty spray bottles; contractor bags; pillows; blankets; batteries; and phone chargers. In addition, the Red Cross has launched a massive response to this devastating storm and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. Red Cross New Jersey has already sent number of volunteers to Texas to help with the arduous recovery. Among them are Lauri Gill of Sparta and Peter Grey of Sandyston.