SPOTSWOOD, NJ - New Jersey has suffered its fair share of hurricanes. However, it's hard to imagine the Houston area enduring more water than Hurricanes Floyd, Irene and Sandy combined. In response to the devastation facing tens of thousands of Texans, Spotswood first responders banded together last week to stage a collection for flood victims.

The call went out over social media and around Spotswood and Helmetta for donations of water, diapers, baby formula and non-perishable food items. Their response, thanks to the power of social media, was overwhelming.

"Our biggest contributors were Enterprise Iron, which is a business from Matawan who saw our flyer on Facebook and set up their own drop off location in Millstone and then transported their donations to us," Patrolman Adam Sabatino explained. "Jamesburg Elks, Curves of Spotswood and the Manalapan High School football team all made large donations. Spotswood EMS led the charge with Dave Nichols and Sonam Patel doing a large portion of the organizing. Multiple members of the Spotswood Fire Department and OEM assisted with packaging and transporting the bulk. Stephen Gallo and myself assisted from the PBA."

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"Pete Kulbaki from Brunswick Memorial Home not only donated, but provided us with a second trailer to streamline the transportation process. Pete is a huge supporter of the Spotswood Emergency Services and always helps the PBA when needed," Sabatino continued.

In addition to those large contributions, the Spotswood Fire Department on Main Street in the borough saw a steady stream of Spotswood, Helmetta and area residents throughout the day on August 30 and August 31, dropping off bottled water, diapers and more.

Substantial donations also came in from the South Amboy Fire Department, Monmouth Fencing, Circle Janitorial, Spotswood American Legion Post 253, the Spotswood Funeral Home and employees from the Spotswood ShopRite.

Collecting the donations was only one facet of the humanitarian mission and it was here that Spotswood and the surrounding communities stepped up as well. International Paper provided the Spotswood first responders with the boxes needed to package and ship the donations to Texas. Dr. Leonard from Edison provided the warehouse space to store the items in addition to the workers needed to pack the tractor trailers. Dr. Leonard also contributed to the cause with donations of their own. Giancola came through with the necessary forklifts to move the loaded pallets.

Helmetta mayor, Chris Slavicek treated all of the first responders, volunteering their time over the two-day collection process, to breakfast.

"The outpouring of donations from people in Spotswood and the surrounding communities was huge," said Cate Leedy, the Administrative Assistant for Spotswood. "The volunteers from all the emergency services branches put in a couple of marathon days, not finishing up until 10 or 11 each night. I have to tell you, I am so blessed and so proud to work with these people. They are the best."
 
By September 1, the community-wide endeavor produced 70 heaping pallets of bottled water, personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies, non-perishable food items, pet supplies and diapers that are packed and in the process of being shipped to Texas.
 
Harvey will most likely go down in American history as one of the costliest hurricanes. The storm's wind, monumental rain and widespread flooding claimed the lives of 39 people, including a family of six whose minivan was swept away by rushing flood waters. One million people are currently displaced from their homes because of massive flooding. More than 180,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged by Harvey. As of Friday, September 1 over 40,000 residents were living in shelters. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 364,000 Texans have applied for government assistance.