Five hyperlocal NYC groups seeking Sandy relief funds

Rockaway Beach wakes up from a nightmare of destruction with the help of a local basketball club. Rockaways photos courtesy the Graybeards.

The storm called Sandy unleashed waves of generous giving from donors eager to help New York and New Jersey recover. With endorsements from everyone from President Barack Obama to Lady Gaga, the American Red Cross has received the lion’s share of the cash: a whopping $120 million since October 29. The cash has flooded in even as the organization has come under fire for what is seen as a slow and feeble response to the storm and a limited presence in hard-hit areas of New York City.

New Jersey has Snooki and JWoww, who raised $7 million for their beloved shore. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is encouraged contributions to his Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which pulled in $32 million in cash and goods in the week following the storm.

But there’s local, and then there’s local: giving directly to established, reputable organizations rooted in the communities working toward recovery.

Before you send a charity text, consider a contribution to established hyperlocal groups seeking donations for Sandy recovery, including these five gems:

Have a registered 501(c)(3) organization that’s raising money for New York City neighborhoods recovering from Sandy? Let us know about what you’re doing, and we’ll consider your project for future updates.


The Graybeards

Following 9/11, a men’s basketball league in Rockaways turned itself into a nonprofit community service organization with 150 members whose goal is to support the development and welfare of Rockaways, while promoting patriotism and the education of young people on the peninsula. Since then, the Graybeards have held fundraisers and social events for wounded veterans and last summer raised $5,000 for funeral costs of a 13-year-old who died of a heart condition. In the wake of Sandy, Graybeards are looking to raise $500,000 for recovery efforts including housing for the displaced. To contribute go here.


The Coney Island History Project

Housed beneath the iconic Wonder Wheel next to Coney Island’s boardwalk and beach, the museum holds the history of the People’s Playground, including audio tapes of old-timers’ memories and photos of the weird and wonderful past of one of New York City’s most colorful neighborhoods. Coney was hard-hit by Sandy and the museum’s exhibit space and office were wrecked by four feet of floodwater. “Coney Island has been destroyed many times,” said History Project director Charles Denson, who documented the destruction in nearby Sea Gate in a chilling video he took as Sandy hit. “In the past it has burned to the ground and been ripped apart by storms. And it has always recovered. We plan to be back better than ever.” To donate go here.


Red Hook Initiative

A decade ago, the Red Hook Initiative was born in this gritty-to-gentrifying Brooklyn waterfront community as a hospital program helping residents deal with health and social needs. Since then, it has grown up into a leadership training program for young people, through programs like a community radio station, young chef academy and college support network. Since the superstorm hit, Red Hook Initiative has stepped into high gear as a food and aid distribution site and volunteer organizing hub for cleanup. To donate to its hurricane relief fund go here.


Anarchy Animal Rescue

This Staten Island organization’s motto is “No rules, no boundaries…. Rescue our way, the right way!” Beginning in 2010, Anarchy Animal Rescue worked in more stable times to prevent animals from being euthanized by taking in animals (including overflow from overcrowded kill shelters run by the city) and outreach and education about neutering and adoption. Since the hurricane, the organization has stepped up to deliver pet food around the island and coordinate with shelters in the region to organize rescues, adoptions and foster homes for animals whose owners can’t keep them after the storm. Foster applications and donations can be made here.


Staten Island Strong

Founded by the the Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund, named after an FDNY firefighter who died on 9/11, this grassroots volunteer organization emerged days following Hurricane Sandy. So far it has organized 200 volunteers to clean up homes and funneled more than 18,000 meals to families displaced by the storm. Its ultimate goal now is to ensure “that all affected by the hurricane are able to rebuild long after the government agencies are gone.” Starting with the Staten Island Strong Golf Outing last Saturday, it is raising money for for rebuilding homes and helping local businesses under the motto: “We are not the forgotten borough, we are the epicenter of strength.” To donate go here.

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