Every year, Rutgers alumna and former basketball player Regina Solomon drives back to campus in New Jersey to watch a football game and reunite with friends.
This year, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Solomon felt the trip wouldn’t be complete if she didn’t make an effort to help out the communities she would be passing through.
“I just thought I’d bring a couple of supplies in the back of my car,” Solomon said. “I couldn’t go back to New Jersey empty-handed.”
A plan to bring a few supplies turned into a community effort to donate enough goods to fill a U-Haul. Solomon sent emails to friends, posted notice of the collection time, 9 a.m. to noon, and posted messages on Facebook.
Her goal was to fill up a 17-square-foot or larger U-Haul that she will drive to New Jersey on Friday.
The goods will be donated to Tuckerton Elementary School in Tuckerton, N.J. and Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen, a nonprofit based in New Brunswick, N.J.
The two towns were among the many severely hit by flooding wind and rains that were part of Hurricane Sandy last week.
Because of limited space in the U-Haul, Solomon sought goods that Tuckerton and Elijah’s Promise were in strong need of – canned and prepackaged food, new underwear, toiletries, linens and blankets, baby formula, toys and gently used utensils and cookware.
She’s also taking cash donations directly to families and accepting gift cards to stores such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
Monday morning more than 100 families streamed into the gym at Ball’s Bluff Elementary School, stacking the walls with canned foods, toiletries, clothes, bedspreads and other supplies.
“It’s such a testament to the community here at Leesburg,” Solomon said. “I never had to ask people to show up. They just did.”
The U-Haul is sponsored by Dr. Steve Lan of Loudoun Pediatric Dentistry and Dr. Randy Minchax of Advanced Spinal Care of Leesburg.
Solomon said it was originally hard to find a sponsor for the U-Haul.
“I’d rather spend $300 on the goods,” Soloman said. “I called countless places and they just said ‘call corporate.’”
She finally got in touch with a local branch of the U-Haul who gave her a discount on the truck.
Solomon and other organizers will load the U-Haul in Ball’s Bluff parking lot at 2 p.m. Thursday.
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