SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - What started out as a local businessman's social media post, has turned out to be a regional initiative to help victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.
Bryan Hermann, of Franklin Township, reached out to his friends, family, and acquaintances to lend some much-needed help to the people of Texas suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Hermann along with his brother Jeff and other family members run Hermann Transportation, a 90-year-old distribution company, located in the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick Township.
Because of Hermann's efforts, a convoy of four trucks will travel to Texas on either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week for the first delivery.
Hermann Transportation will send more convoys through out the month and will continue collecting donations until Sept. 30.
Hermann was an EMT with the Jersey City Medical Center during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., is currently a firefighter with Rescue One Squad Four in Jersey City, and served with the department during super storm Sandy in 2012.
"During my time as an EMT and firefighter, the amount of support and giving back I saw really opened my eyes to see what this country can do," Hermann said. "It was only fitting for my brother Jeff and I to donate the logistics to help support the people of the Houston and Louisiana area."
People from as far away as upstate New York down to Point Pleasant Beach in Ocean County, heeded Hermann's online call to action with an overwhelming response.
Originally, Hermann was going to send two 53-foot trailers with donated supplies to help.
As of Monday, enough supplies have been donated to fill five trailers.
One trailer held a donation of 24,000 pounds of food and hay, from the Oak Ridge Hay Company in Hyde Park, New York, for animals at a farm in West Gilmore, Texas.
Another trailer was fully loaded with bottled water donated by Joe Leone's Italian Specialties located in Point Pleasant Beach. Joe Leone's matched its customer's donation of a case of water with a case of their own.
While TAPinto was at the Hermann Transportation facility in Monmouth Junction on Monday, a steady stream of people arrived to donate.
Patricia "Patty" Christian owns Hidden Lake Hair Design with her sister Maryanne Rubenstein, showed up with an SUV full of supplies which were collected at her salon. Christian said her salon will serve as a "drop off spot" for supplies.
"My staff, my clients are all bringing tons of stuff," Christian said. "I am very proud of my staff and my clients for helping out, I mean what can we do but help each other, it's America we help."
Darrell Myers, the chief of Griggstown Volunteer Fire Company, Station 35 was also on hand with members from his station dropping off supplies donated by Kendall Park resident Heather McClain.
"Heather is eight months pregnant and said she has collected a lot of stuff at her home to donate, but didn't have a way to get it over to us," Hermann said. "I called Darell and said I need a favor and he was on it right away."
"Bryan was a member of our fire company years ago, and I saw his post saying he needed help, and I told him anything he needed to give us a call and we will pitch in," Myers said. "One brother helping another, that is what we do."
Police departments from Franklin Township, South Brunswick, Cranbury, and Monroe Township joined organizations including Long Valley Moms, Confectionary Yours, Hugs for Brady Foundation, the Warriors for Life Scholarship Foundation, and many others to donate supplies.
"The events in Houston have been a chilling reminder of what we faced a few years ago with both Hurricanes Irene and Sandy," Cranbury Chief of Police Rickey Varga said in an email Monday. "We learned first hand of the devastation and difficulties faced in the aftermath of such events. During those disasters, we not only came together as neighbors but more so as a country. We feel the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Houston and the surrounding areas and would like to coordinate efforts to help ease their recovery. We know these needed supplies will be a great help to those who have been displaced and who have lost so much."
Hermann said the effort really shows what the country is about.
"When things fall apart it is everyday people from the community that step up and help," Hermann said. "We have forces that try to divide and conquer us, but seeing everyone come together like this, just goes to show that we as a people are better than that."
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