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From Avon to Staten Island: Family-Led Caravan Will Help Sandy Victims

Loss is personal for Avon's Siniscalchi family.

When Super Storm Sandy the effects, literally, were felt in Northeast Ohio. One week later, the connection remains, with one Avon family feeling the pain and devastation of those with significantly greater loss than most endured in Cleveland.

Avon’s Siniscalchi family, before moving here in August of 2011, were longtime residents of Staten Island. When the storm hit, the family quickly learned of the devastation the borough of New York City endured.

Now the family, including son Shane, the manager of Caribou Coffee in Avon, are helping with relief efforts from hundreds of miles away.

“I personally knew three people who died,” Shane said. “A house collapsed on two and a third was electrocuted. They were personal friends of mine.”

For Siniscalchi, the destruction is somewhat surreal and hits home hard.

“It’s mind blowing the things I knew for 14 years are gone,” Siniscalchi   said. “The best pizza place in Staten Island, gone. The first roller coaster I ever went, ever, in Point Pleasant is literally under feet and feet of sand.”

The next day, Shane, parents David and Debbie and sister Kayla took to Facebook to help.

“We’re working directly with Crossroads Church in Staten Island,” Siniscalchi said. “There are so many people I know who are homeless, living in shelters with nothing.”

The Siniscalchis have received help locally. Two Buck's three locations -- Middleburgh Heights and North Olmsted -- put Shane’s request for goods on their Facebook pages. Lake Ridge Academy also agreed to help with the Siniscalchi effort.

The response was overwhelming.

“Two Bucks alone brought in thousands of coats and blanket, sweatshirts,” Shane said. Others have seen the Siniscalchis Facebook requests and dropped off items.

His parents loaded a truck and headed for Staten Island on Sunday. On Thursday, Nov. 8, another trip is planned; this time, a caravan including those the Siniscalchis just met, will make the trip. The Siniscalchis are still taking donations, but not necessarily clothing.

“Now the need has changed from clothing,” Shane said, noting cleanup is now underway. “We need medical gloves and cleaning gloves, industrial strength trash bags, batteries and bleach as well as bottled water and non-perishable items like hot chocolate.”

Help will also be accepted, through Crossroads Church, for checks and gift cards. Currently, the Siniscalchis are footing the bill for gas and tolls onto Staten Island.

Those interested can drop off donations to Avon Caribou, Two Bucks in Avon, North Olmsted and Middleburg Heights. Shane said other arrangements can be made by contacting him at 440-452-6972.

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