Maine camps donate supplies to the East End

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Members of the Mattituck Presbyterian Church lined up to help unload a van full of supplies for people in need after Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island. The van was filled by eight different camps in Maine.

Who knows more about what it’s like to be in the cold than a bunch of campers? No running water, no electricity, nothing but a sleeping bag to keep you warm at night: That’s a camper’s life.

So it sounded like a natural fit to the directors of eight camps in Maine, men and women accustomed to life without power, to give to Long Islanders in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“We know better than anyone what it’s like,” said Sarah Seaward, owner/director of Camp Nashoba, a children’s summer camp in Littleton, Maine. “Whenever someone’s in need, we all jump.”

Ms. Seaward and friend Wendy Wilbur, an assistant crew coach at Harvard University, began their journey to Long Island Saturday night, finally arriving at Mattituck Presbyterian Church at noon Sunday with a van stuffed with donated supplies for storm victims. It was the second van in as many days to arrive at the church and a third van from Connecticut is expected to come Tuesday.

Caren Heacock, the pastoral care assistant at the church, said she was especially grateful the supplies were being delivered to the North Fork, where relief efforts have been scarce.

Ms. Heacock said she reached out to the American Red Cross to find out how the church could help people impacted on the East End, but learned most of the efforts were being concentrated to areas farther west, where residents were more greatly impacted by the storm.

“[The campers] said they wanted to reach out to a community that wasn’t being helped,” Ms. Heacock said.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Sarah Seaward (in the green jacket) drove a donated van from Maine to Mattituck this week to eliver supplies for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Among the many items stuffed in the van was food and paper products donated by Maine residents, toothbrushes and toothpaste from dentists and sleeping bags from the campers themselves. They even had lots of dog and cat food donated by New England pet stores.

The campers packed the vans all day Friday before hitting the road over the weekend. Cross Sound Ferry donated a free ferry ride for the drivers of both vans.

Ms. Seaward said campers often quietly step up to help people following tragedies. She pointed to efforts following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina as other times she’s made trips to help people in need.

Ms. Heacock said the whole experience was unique for the church, who had more than a dozen members helping to unload the vans Saturday and Sunday.

“As a church we’re always giving,” she said. “It’s something different to be on the receiving end of so much support. It’s an extraordinary experience.”

The church, which is located at 12605 Main Road in Mattituck, will open its doors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to hand out the supplies. All East End residents in need post-Sandy are welcome to visit the church to receive supplies.

Ms. Heacock said food supplies left over Friday afternoon will be donated to area food pantries, including the church’s own pantry.

“The pantries were wiped out following the storm,” she said.

gparpan@timesreview.com

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