A Buckingham woman with ties to Staten Island has been delivering much-needed goods donated by Bucks County families to the New York borough devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
But as a bleak holiday season looms over her New York hometown, Marivel Passacantando feels driven to do even more.
She is collecting gift cards to national chain stores to be distributed to her former parish in Staten Island. St. Charles Roman Catholic Church has been a hub for relief efforts in the wake of the deadly storm.
"I have already contacted the principal of St. Charles and she is so appreciative of the donations. She said that gift cards are being distributed as quickly as she receives them," Passacantando told Doylestown Patch on Tuesday.
Passacantando and her husband Peter, who live in the Buckingham Square neighborhood, were raised in Staten Island. Seeing the devastation in their hometown after the hurricane, she knew she had to do something to help.
Through Facebook, and Archbishop Wood, where their daughter goes to school, and a story here on Patch, the couple reached out to the Central Bucks community. The community responded.
In one day, students at Archbishop Wood donated so much stuff that it filled one entire band room and overflowed into another, Marivel said.
Friends, neighbors and strangers dropped off so many juice boxes, paper plates, Lysol wipes and toilet paper that the Passacantandos had to find a new path through their own home.
Donations overflowed the living room, filled the kitchen and dining room, lined the stairs and even had to be stashed in the garage and piled on the family's driveway.
"Thank you for running the story online," she said, simply. "So many people donated and my husband and I were overwhelmed with the generosity."
Kevin Millevoi, who owns Millevoi's Tire & Service Center in Bensalem, generously donated the use of a 15-foot box truck to deliver the thousands of dollars worth of donations to Staten Island, Passacantando said.
In the weeks after the hurricane, Marivel and Peter delivered four truckloads to the New Dorp Beach area of Staten Island, one of the neighborhoods most devastated by the storm's power.
Superstorm Sandy killed at least 125 people in the United States. Of the 48 who died in New York City, at least 23 of them died on Staten Island.
Now, as the days wind down to Christmas, Passacantando wants to deliver gift cards so families can buy gifts for each other, or whatever else they may need.
She is collecting gift cards in any amount for Visa, Target, Kohl's, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Kmart for Christmas delivery to families whose homes were destroyed.
To donate a gift card for a family in Staten Island, contact the Passacantandos at firstname.lastname@example.org.