BY SAM SPOKONY | A grassroots fundraising Web site started by an East Village woman has become a surprisingly powerful tool in helping her neighborhood recover from Hurricane Sandy, raising more than $9,000 in only five days.
Jenny Adams, 32, saw firsthand the storm’s unprecedented flooding from her apartment on E. Eighth St., between Avenues C and D, and was immediately struck by the devastating aftermath – her building’s super’s basement apartment was completely destroyed by the surging waters.
So on Nov. 3, five days after the storm swept through, Adams – a freelance journalist originally from Alabama who has lived in the East Village since 2009 – created a page on gofundme.com, which allows users to accept donations directly through the site. She explained that, originally, the fundraiser had a goal of $1,000, mainly to support her super and provide a small amount of other assistance to the neighborhood.
But just hours after creating the page, which she dubbed the Alphabet City Rescue Mission, Adams realized she’d underestimated the opportunity.
“I was sitting in a bar with my roommate, and I looked down and saw that we’d gotten $600 in four hours,” she said. “He told me I should change the goal to $10,000, just so people wouldn’t stop at $1,000. I changed it, but I never seriously believed the site would reach that total.”
Now, only days later, the Alphabet City Rescue Mission is close to doing just that. By Thursday evening, $9,017 had been raised, and Adams said that the donations had come from as far away as New Orleans, England and Nepal, in addition to many from New York.
Especially surprising has been the low number of donors compared to the high total so far. Ninety-two people have contributed so far, making for average donations of nearly $100.
Adams said on Wednesday that she had already spent about $3,200. The money has gone toward a wide variety of uses, including hot meals (for both local soup kitchens and other affected areas, like Staten Island and Coney Island), batteries and power strips, and winter necessities, like blankets, coats and mittens. She added that some of the blankets and clothing items have been delivered directly to people in need, especially at the many East Village public housing buildings that are still without heat.
In addition, Adams said that The Wayland, a bar at E. Ninth St. and Avenue C, is now an instrumental part of the relief effort. The bar and its owners and employees faced their own massive flooding issues after the storm, but they have since become a kind of home base for the Alphabet City Rescue Mission by providing space for Adams to store supplies. Some of the employees have also helped with purchasing groceries for donated meals.
“Instead of worrying about their own damage, they took care of their community,” Adams said, “and that’s pretty amazing.”
Adams added that The Wayland reopened Wednesday night, and that she hopes local residents will show the bar the support it deserves as it emerges from a tough couple of weeks.
– To donate to the Alphabet City Rescue Mission, visit www.gofundme.com/1g96zs&aff=GFMse. To join as a volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .