EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

November 30, 2012

Women collect holiday hope in shoeboxes

Women aim to fill tractor-trailer with gifts for hurricane victims

ATKINSON — It could be a math homework question: How many shoeboxes would it take to fill a 53-foot tractor trailer?

John Cote Sr., president of Louis P. Cote Inc. of Goffstown, owns such a trailer.

His answer to the question? Laughter.

But he did estimate the 3,816-cubic-foot trailer would hold “a lot” of shoeboxes.

Atkinson resident Pam Burke and Plaistow resident Linda Heminway are doing their best to collect as many boxes as possible to fill that truck before it heads to New Jersey in a couple of weeks.

These are not your average shoeboxes. Rather than footwear, the boxes will be filled with small items meaningful to the recipient. It’s an effort to deliver something personal — and hopeful — to people whose lives were swept away in late October.

The two women, dubbed Santa Pam and Super Elf Linda, launched Shoeboxes from Santa in the hopes of spreading some holiday cheer to New Jersey residents still devastated by the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Burke, who can trace many important life events to the Jersey shore, said it all started after she made a cash donation to help storm victims soon after Sandy hit.

But she wanted to do more. She tried.

She said she was surprised more groups weren’t collecting donations of food, clothing and other necessities for storm victims. Rather than wait for someone else, Burke took action.

“What started out as just me being very agitated has just snowballed into something wonderful,” she said this week.

And snowball it has.

Burke, who grew up in the Philadelphia area and summered on the Jersey shore, decided to start by finding a truck.

“I called a lumberyard and said, ‘Do you have a truck?’” she recalled. “He said, ‘Who are you?’”

After she told him about her mission, he said, “Sweetie, I can’t afford that.”

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