A Ward Melville alumna who resides in a neighborhood hit hard by Superstorm Sandy is finding time this holiday season to assist Long Island families that met a far worst fate by the late October natural disaster of epic proportions.
Mary Kate Tischler of Seaford and five of her friends are forming a group called “Sandy Can’t Steal Christmas” that aims to adopt 15 families displaced from their homes by Sandy and arrange for them to receive holiday gifts in their time of need. Tischler, whose Narragansett Avenue neighborhood suffered major flooding from Sandy’s wrath as well as Tropical Storm Irene, said the group’s goal is to adopt 15 families from Seaford, Lindenhurst and Mastic Beach, three waterfront communities that suffered some of the worst devastation from the storm.
“We want to make a real impact,” said Tischler, whose home was in the process of being elevated due to flooding incured from Tropical Storm Irene when Sandy hit. “We would really like to help people get through this in any way we can.”
Tischler and four of her other friends involved as directors with the charitable cause are 1992 graduates of Ward Melville High School, including Corynn West of Setauket, Erika Schaub of Port Jefferson, Anne Rocco of Bronxville and Stephanie Scarola of Monroe Township, N.J. Florida native and Forest Hills resident Edward Quigley has also joined the effort and is lending his legal knowledge as an attorney to help “Sandy Can’t Steal Christmas” file paperwork to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
Soon after the idea formed to help children in hard-hit Sandy areas receive gifts this holiday season, a“Sandy Can’t Steal Christmas” Facebook page was formed. Tischler said the gifts would most likely be donated via a registry along with a PayPal option for monetary donations.
While organization efforts continue to make “Sandy Can’t Steal Christmas” a not-for profit where donations would be tax deductible, work is underway to select families from Seaford, Lindenhurst and Mastic Beach most in need following the storm and identifying gifts for them. Tischler met with one of the Seaford PTA presidents to determine families in need from her area and others from the organization are helping to select those in dire straits in Lindenhurst and Mastic Beach. She said the goal is to have presents delivered well before Christmas Day and Hanukkah, which ends on Dec. 16.
“We’re trying to put this together as quickly as we can,” Tischler said.
The devastation that many across Long Island are experiencing from Superstorm Sandy brought back vivid memories for Tischler, who after incurring severe flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in late August 2011 needed to leave her home so it could be repaired and raised. Tischler said the experience with Irene taught her to try and give back to those less fortunate during times of crisis.
“I went through this last year and I know how it feels,” she said. “I’m doing my best to reach out to others in need this year.”