When Neil DeLuca of Derry heard about the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused in New Jersey and New York, he just knew he had to do something to help.
DeLuca, 53, is teaming up with friend Glynis Citarelli of Amherst and businesses across the state, including the Market Basket supermarket chain, to aid storm victims through Operation New Hampshire Cares.
Cub Scouts in Salem are helping as well, making blankets to send to the victims, he said.
At 5 a.m. Saturday, DeLuca and a small group of volunteers will head to New Jersey, along with a tractor-trailer packed with food, clothing and toiletries for Sandy victims. Donations for the trip are being collected through this afternoon.
They will deliver the food and other items to Your Grandmother’s Cupboard, a nonprofit organization in Toms River that will distribute the donations, DeLuca said.
“Food pantries down there are in dire straits,” he said. “They are running out of food. The food supply has just been depleted.”
The storm Oct. 29 killed 85 people and destroyed homes in numerous states. Tens of thousands of New York and New Jersey residents still remain in the dark, waiting for electricity to be restored.
Shortly after Sandy struck, DeLuca said he became caught up in the television news coverage one night before going to bed.
“The next day, I woke up with the big desire to do something,” he said.
Citarelli, who has relatives in New Jersey, decided to pitch in as well.
“We said, ‘Let’s help our families and friends down there,’” DeLuca said.
They launched a social media campaign that’s prompted people across New Hampshire to donate, receiving about 200 responses to help in less than 10 days.
Approximately a dozen businesses and 11 Market Basket stores, including locations in Salem and Londonderry, offered to serve as drop-off sites. Market Basket is collecting donations until noon today and the other businesses are accepting them until 3 p.m. today.