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School Board member coordinates relief effort for victims of Hurricane Sandy

It might be called a do-it-yourself drive for supplies for folks in need after Hurricane Sandy raked the Northeast.

About eight volunteers have joined Gus Guadagnino in the effort to help.

Guadagnino, a businessman and newly elected member of the Hernando School Board, described the need: "You have people who had a house and don't have a house anymore. How do you start living from scratch again?"

Through 4:30 p.m. Friday, people may drop off goods such as furniture, rugs, small and large appliances, and blankets at Joni Industries, 16230 Aviation Loop Drive, in the Airport Industrial Park off Spring Hill Drive. Any item other than clothing will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, starting Monday.

"We have capabilities of pickup for large items or big quantities," Guadagnino said.

While Guadagnino, owner of Joni Industries, said he assumes that big-box stores are providing drinking water and cleaning supplies, he stressed that personal hygiene items — toothpaste, for example — remain a need.

Staten Island, N.Y., is the destination, "where we hear people are staying and rebuilding," Guadagnino said.

Coordinating on that end is the organization Where from Here?, which formed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The volunteer agency was suggested by a Joni employee whose mother in New York has been actively involved. Guadagnino noted that he also researched the organization, as well as others, to determine legitimacy and aid efforts.

Sal Messina, owner of Global Transportation & Logistics Inc., also in the Airport Industrial Park, has signed on to support Guadagnino's effort. Messina will supply whatever size trucks, plus drivers, are needed to transport the goods collected in Hernando.

Staten Island and Long Island continue to have tremendous needs, Margaret Ayala reported Friday by cell phone from Keansburg, N.J.

"(The Keansburg area) is now okay," said Ayala, a Spring Hill resident who led a collection effort last weekend in Hernando County and delivered the results to several communities in New Jersey. She and her volunteers expected to return to Spring Hill late today.

As for a collection goal, Guadagnino said, "Until they say, 'Stop sending me anything. I have all I need.' "

He added: "I'll go till I get exhausted. That means I've done a good job."

To schedule a pickup, call (352) 650-1512.

Beth Gray can be contacted at

School Board member coordinates relief effort for victims of Hurricane Sandy 11/09/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 9, 2012 8:25pm]
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