KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- Anyone who wants to donate supplies for victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey does not have far to look in this area. At least two efforts to load vehicles with supplies are underway in and around Bennington.
The Bennington Rotary Club spent late Friday morning loading a 35-foot bus with supplies. Kristin Reed, president of the Rotary club, said the bus had come from West Rutland where it was loaded with items there, then it stopped in Manchester where it picked up supplies from the Manchester Rotary Club. It was half full by the time it reached Bennington, and Reed and volunteers had to do some planning in order to fit the supplies collected recently.
She said the bus will go to another location for a pick up if it can fit anymore supplies.
The bus is owned by Nick Amsden, of West Rutland, who said he bought it and maintains it as a hobby. His destination is Long Island, N.Y., and after that it is on to Paramus, N.J., where other Rotary clubs and groups will take the items and send them where necessary.
Reed said Mincer's Mini Mart donated the gas for the bus, which she hopes will be able to make the return trip. If it breaks down or is made otherwise unavailable, there is a truck out of Brattleboro the Rotary club there is using. She may also seek a new vehicle.
Donations have been being collected at the Better Bennington Corp. building on South Street, near Elm Street, but the point is being moved to the William H. Morse State Airport, off Walloomsac Road in the west end of town.
Reed said donations of food, clothing, blankets, pet food, and other household supplies can be left at the airport Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., then from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. She said she is trying to organize volunteers to staff the drop-off so it can run on weekends and past 5:30 p.m.
Elisa Gomez-Reed, Reed's daughter, said she has been staffing the Bennington drop and hundreds of people have donated. She said many businesses large and small have stepped up as well.
Rosemarie Pelletier, a volunteer, said she had been working to drum up donations and the outpouring has been good. She said people are willing to donate and just need an outlet.
Debby Goldman said she has been able to procure the use of an 18-foot box truck and plans to begin collecting supplies on Monday and continue through Nov. 16 at four locations in Bennington and one in Shaftsbury. She said if a person is stuck for ideas on what to donate, simply imagine all you own is the clothing you are wearing and you should have an idea of the level of need in areas hard hit by the storm, some of which were hit again by a nor'easter at the beginning of the week.
The drop of locations and times are:
* The Veterans of Foreign Wars building, North Street, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
* Midas Automotive, Northside Drive, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
* Grace Christian School, Kocher Drive, Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
* North Bennington Fire Department, Prospect Street, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Methodist Church, Church Street in Shaftsbury, Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Goldman said if a person can't reach a drop point, they can call her at 802-442-8090 or Bonnie Crego at 802-447-3254.