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Bringing Warmth to Victims of Hurricane Sandy

On Wednesday, February 13, The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHS of NJ) distributed 4,500 blankets donated by Hayneedle, Inc. (Omaha, NE) at Meelheim’s Transfer & Storage warehouse in South Toms River. Partners with CHS of NJ in this relief effort included The Hope Center, Missionary Pentecostal Church, O.C.E.A.N. Inc., People’s Pantry, The Salvation Army, Seaside Heights Elementary School, the Ocean County Health Department, St. Francis on LBI, Your Grandmother’s Cupboard and Meelheim’s Transfer & Storage.

Hayneedle’s flagship store, hayneedle.com, launched its second annual Gifts That Give Back holiday collection in November 2012 with the goal of delivering warm blankets to children in need in the United States. Shortly after a discussion with the chair of The Children’s Home Society of America (CHSA), Sharon Osborne, and after hearing the reports of devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, Hayneedle (in association with Pearl Mantels and other participating vendors) Hayneedle agreed that the best use of their blankets would be to designate them to families impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

“At Hayneedle, we are committed to positively impacting the communities we serve in any way possible,” said Doug Nielsen, president and CEO, Hayneedle. “As families continue to struggle with the hurricane aftermath, donating all blankets to the affected families was an easy decision for our company and participating vendors. As temperatures continue to drop, we take comfort in knowing our collective donation will help families stay warm. We are proud that our Gifts That Give Back collection has expanded to include many generous partners and associations this year, as the donation nearly doubled since the prior year.”

The blankets were delivered to Meelheim’s Transfer & Storage warehouse in South Toms River on February 12th and 13th. Although the warehouse itself had been flooded with two feet of water and was still in the process of recovery, the owners generously agreed to unload all of the pallets and store them overnight. Having been notified in advance of their arrival, representatives from each organization were on hand to accept cases of blankets for the Sandy families and children they serve.

“We were touched by Hayneedle’s spirit of generosity and their willingness to coordinate efforts so families who were impacted by the hurricane would be able to receive these lovely warm blankets. The Hayneedle team provided support throughout the process from the planning to the delivery of the blankets,” said Susan O’Leary, a Program Coordinator of the Ocean County Family Success Center who spent weeks preparing and arranging the distribution of the blankets.

Also present during the distribution Fern Lumpkin, a parent participant at CHS of NJ’s Ocean County Family Success Center who lost her home to Sandy. Lumpkin and her 17-month-old daughter had been living in shelters until just recently when they moved into a temporary home.

Lumpkin accepted blankets for her family as a representative of all families who will receive blankets through this effort. When asked what the gift of warm blankets means to her, she tearfully replied, “It shows me that people do care.”

Donna Pressma, President and CEO of CHS of NJ, expressed her thanks and appreciation to Hayneedle, CHS of America and to the brother-owners of Meelheim’s Transfer & Storage, Ronald and Jeffery, for use of their warehouse space. “This is one more wonderful example of how so many good people come together to help each other in times of devastating crisis,” she said.

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