After Hurricane Sandy, Army veteran Dan Nagle's home town of Toms River, New Jersey now looks like something he's only seen during his four tours of duty in Afghanistan.
"Just seeing the devastation and everything that was going on there it actually looked like a war zone," Nagle said today, "I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan and seen what a war zone looks like and it was very hard to see my hometown look that way."
So he decided to do something about it and started a donation drive in LaPlata, Maryland, where he now lives, for his now-devastated old hometown on the Jersey Shore.
He posted a simple Facebook message, calling on friends and family to donate supplies for those in need in New Jersey. It quickly went viral and received the attention of local firehouses and businesses who offered to help in the effort, donating not only their time but also locations to help collect donations.
Today, at twelve pick-up locations in three counties in Southern Maryland, donations were collected for one mass shipment for New Jersey residents.
"These are things they need, warm weather coats, blankets, socks, shoes, children's clothing," volunteer Marcia Stonestreet said today while sorting through the donated goods, "I just can't imagine not having these things."
Nagle, along with friends, collected so many bags and boxes from the community that two fifty-three foot tractor trailers were necessary to store and drive the goods up to New Jersey. Two local trucking companies donated the trucks, and drivers.
The trucks will deliver the goods directly to New Jersey residents once they get the all-clear from relief organizers, coordinated by a local church, on the ground in New Jersey.
Nagle says delivering the supplies directly to New Jersey residents himself, along with volunteers and friends, helps in his mind for them to witness the positive effects of their donations.
"It goes to the people immediately without having a middle man, without having a big organization accept these and maybe just put it in storage somewhere; we want to see this go to the people who truly need it."
For many across the community pitching in today - even for strangers states away - hit close to home. So was the case for Jeff Carroll, a local firefighter who and helped to organize the donation drive.
"It could have easily been us, 150 to 200 miles South it would have been us," Carroll said today of the hurricane while helping load boxes on the delivery truck, "And luckily we weren't. We were very fortunate. So this is our way of saying, sorry it happened to you but we're here to help out in whatever way we can."
Volunteer Carolyn Sweeney said she knows that these donations will not solve the problem in New Jersey, as many are still without power and the communities are still devastated, but she hopes it will help a little bit.
"Hopefully once the truck gets there on Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon they're going to smile," Sweeney said, "and say thank you Southern Maryland."