WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield resident and Houston native Benjamin Montez and Rory Chadwick, owner of the new Downtown Westfield shop Midtown Authentic, have teamed up to organize a mass donation event for Hurricane Harvey victims.

The event will be held Saturday, Sept. 9, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the parking lot owned by Needle Point Homes between Vine Ripe Markets and McIntyres on North Avenue.

“There seems like an outpouring of support here in Westfield and we want to help facilitate peoples’ interest in sharing,” said Montez. Montez happened to be in Houston for business when the storm hit earlier this week. “I have a good idea of what they are needing and what they are asking for.”

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While in Houston, Montez saw a post on the Westfield, NJ Facebook Page* by Chadwick saying that he wanted to organize something to help those affected by the storm. Chadwick currently resides in Hoboken,  and was living there when Superstorm Sandy hit. He said his reason for organizing this event is to pay it forward after he was helped by a South Carolina businessman who sent generators to Hoboken to help after the storm.

Montez reached out to Chadwick after seeing the post and the two quickly got to work on plans to get supplies to Hurricane Harvey victims.

Montez works in shipping and knew he could help Chadwick with his efforts.

“I have access to trucking and said ‘Let’s come up with a collection date and get the trucks set up,’” he said.

The objective of the event is to collect as many items as possible that will help those most in need in the Houston area. Items wanted include new/unused bedding, school supplies, diapers, formula, cleaning products, undergarments, toiletries, laundry detergent, feminine products, vitamins, minerals, ointments and other over-the-counter medications.

The team also asks for positive messages and letters of encouragement and hope.

They reached out to local businesses to serve as gift card donation drop off sites. Anyone who is interested in donating a gift card to victims is asked to purchase cards from national stores including Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s. They will also accept Visa/Amex prepaid cards but remind donators to activate the cards before donating, as many in the Houston area are still without phone or internet service.

The idea, according to Montez, is that gift cards will travel with Westfield-based volunteers — Montez, Chadwick and Montez’s wife, Trisha Montez — and will be hand delivered, door-to-door to the people who need them most.

You may drop off gift cards to any of the local businesses listed below. The gift cards will be collected on Friday, Sept. 8.. Organizers ask that you mention your donation is for the Hurricane Harvey victims when delivering them to the stores. (Organizers ask the people please do not bring supplies other than cards to the stores.)

  • Midtown Authentic — 129 E. Broad St., Westfield, NJ 07090 — Phone: 908-228-5856
  • Manhattan Bagel Westfield — 210 S. Ave W, Westfield, NJ 07090 — Phone: 908-654-0525
  • Red Cadillac — 2258 Morris Ave., Union, NJ 07083 — Phone: 908-349-8411

The team also set up a fundraising page dedicated to providing the financial support needed for the trucking efforts. Any additional funds collected on the site will go to bulk purchases of essential items. For more information on the fundraising efforts, visit the You Caring page by clicking here.

Montez and Chadwick have a list of more than 15 Houston-based organizations, but plan to narrow that list down to 10 organizations so that donations will have a greater impact. They say they want to make sure items are reaching those most in need.

“We don’t want a big drop-off point. We want to make it to the small towns that have been really affected,” Montez said.

*The Westfield, NJ Facebook page is managed by TAPinto Westfield Owner and Editor Jackie Lieberman.