Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Tippets.
Behind every member of the Coast Guard stands a proud parent, sibling, spouse or child. Together they form a strong family, a military family. Alongside their loved ones, family members share the weight of deployments as Coast Guard men and women stand the watch. But they also share the same spirit of service, whether it is to country or community. As a true testament to this service, Coast Guard families came together in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
When many New York and New Jersey citizens evacuated to stay safe, Coast Guard men and women remained on watch. It was their duty to be there despite the fact that their own homes and families were in the path of the storm as well. Many of them lost everything.
It is fitting November is Military Family Month as Coast Guard families led the charge to help out their own. Approximately 60 Coast Guard families attached to New York-based units were displaced by Sandy and the Sector New York’s Spouse’s Association responded in full force.
The association coordinated the donation of supplies from local businesses, church groups and other members of the Coast Guard community throughout the country. Just like their loved ones who gave their all in serving their nation after the storm, the spouses have not stopped as they work to supply families in need.
What started out as a small operation quickly grew into more than 60 volunteers who have logged more than 500 hours of service. Since Nov. 4 – when four cargo trucks delivered food, clothing, water, cleaning supplies and baby products – the volunteers have been working in shifts sorting out the supplies and arranging for transport to affected families. About four empty houses worth of supplies have been donated so far, with the supplies reaching all the way to the ceiling in some cases.
“Any Coast Guard families that need help can come here and take what they need,” said Casey Van Huysen, Sector New York’s ombudsman. “The Coast Guard communities have really reached out and helped us.”
Mountains of clothes cover the top floor of an empty base housing unit. Volunteers have been working tediously separating and organizing the clothes for those in need. Tina Mcrae, an Army spouse from Staten Island as well as a mother of four, has been sorting out baby clothes and supplies for families expecting newborns.
“I want to make sure there aren’t any babies that are in need of anything,” said Mcrae. “I just want to help in any way I can.”
The volunteers aren’t doing it for any recognition or accolades. They’re there just to support their fellow military families. And support they have. To date, the spouses have sorted and processed more than $235,000 worth of donations. With more supplies from other Coast Guard families on the way, the Spouse’s Association’s goal is to ensure that no family is in need.
“We lost stuff, but we have gained an even greater appreciation for our Coast Guard family,” said Maribel Ramirez in a Facebook post to the association after receiving aid. “Your kindness humbles our family.”
If you are a local family in need or interested in helping out, please contact Christy Prisco at email@example.com.