New York Gamecocks Provide Relief for Sandy Victims
Everyday rituals as simple as charging a mobile phone or taking a warm shower have become so coveted for many in the storm-ravaged Northeast, deeply affecting folks who normally are accustomed to the comforts of living in the Western world with an income, a heated place to live and home-cooked meals on the table.
When superstorm Sandy devastated areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, so many Gamecocks did what they could to support their Northern brethren by making monetary donations to the Red Cross and supplying charities with goods that have been most needed by those impacted by the storm’s floods and winds.
Chris Schembra and Nick Matthews, ’05, of My Carolina Club of New York City saw No Limits to the ways they could help their neighbors victimized by natural disaster Sandy. By providing opportunities for Carolina alumni who were already motivated to help those in need, Chris and Nick were able to parlay the successful relief efforts of Chris’ family business, Schembra Corporation on Hilton Head Island—they had collected and shipped a substantial amount of supplies to New York and New Jersey—to the New York club by building upon its philanthropic spirit with a similar drive.
“This effort is very near and dear to my heart, as I actually work for the New York City Office of Emergency Management,” Nick explains. “I’ve been working non-stop since before the storm, and I’ve witnessed both the destruction and the amazing outpouring of support from all across the country. I’m very proud of our Gamecock family. We had club leaders and friends reach out to us from everywhere to wish us well and offer support.”
At the Arkansas game-viewing event at the club’s official watch spot, The Mason Jar, the “NYC Gamecocks” set up their donation drive, at which they collected more than five large donation boxes of clothing, food and cleaning supplies. The event attracted 150 supporters, with most of the donations coming from club members and the remaining items provided by friends, families and staff of the restaurant.
Chris’ relationships with several reputable charities—Friends of Firefighters, Police Athletic League, St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters, and Christian Brothers Academy—ensured that the items made it to those who needed it most in places such as Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways.
Unfortunately, some club members themselves were victimized by the storm’s destruction.
“We had a number of club members that were directly impacted by the storm,” Nick explains. “Several people were without power for more than a few days. There are even still some members that have not been allowed back in their apartments because the flooding damage was so severe. Again, the Gamecock family was there to provide support. Club members went on Facebook and sent out messages to the group with offers of hot showers, a couch to crash on, or even just a power outlet to charge phones. It was incredible.”
Though the immediate impact of the storm has made itself known, experts suggest that this will be a years-long rebuilding process. Chris encourages those wanting to make additional contributions to consider sending batteries, flashlights, diapers, work gloves, hammers and other tools.
“Where the real work lies now is in the rebuilding phase, and what that looks like is a bunch of volunteers coming in from all over the country, to spread the soil, so we can rebuild,” Chris explains. “I’d love to facilitate a group coming up to help us out with that, so if they feel like coming to New York City for a spring or summer vacation to help out, we can put them to work. What I’d like to do is be the first university to call for preemptive action for the future, for the next stage.”
If you’d like to get involved with the club’s relief efforts, please contact Chris or Nick, who states, “The outpouring of support from our members in New York City—and across the country—is evidence of the incredible giving spirit of Carolina family.”