Alfonso’s coordinates relief effort
SOMERVILLE - Like so many people who saw the devastation on television, Yolanda Guzman knew she had to do something to help.
“I broke down, I couldn’t handle it, I thought it was just terrible, seeing all those people in tears. They lost everything,” she said.
It wasn’t long before Yolanda was joined by Sarah Vernoia and Ashley Vigliotti. The three young ladies turned for help to Yolanda’s uncle, Anthony Ianniello, who owns Alfonso’s Restaurant, 99 W. Main St. in Somerville.
He offered to have the restaurant serve as a drop-off site for donations.
In no time, donations began to pour in; flyers were distributed at the restaurant, word went out on Facebook, and the enterprising trio slipped flyers underneath cars’ windshield wipers at polling places on Election Day.
“The first day we started collecting we sat around, just hanging out, we actually started to worry that we weren’t going to get a response,” Yolanda explained.
Day Two was nothing like Day One. The tempo picked up, and didn’t let up for over a week.
Clothes, cleaning supplies, food, toiletries, diapers, bath tissue, paper towels, blankets, toothbrushes, shampoo soap and cans of food, items desperately needed by tens of thousands of New Jersey shore residents who lost their homes to the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.
“The response was amazing, the support we got was overwhelming and so, so generous,” she added.
Donations arrived from a church in Highland Park; students from Immaculata High School dropped off donations as well.
“It was heartwarming to see our customers come in to the restaurant with bags of stuff; some people offered cardboard boxes for packing and the employees helped out too; one of the waitresses got her sons to help out, they had no school so they helped drag the boxes from the bottom floor to the third floor where we sorted everything,” Yolanda explained.
The good Samaritans loaded a car and van borrowed from Alfonso’s and delivered the donations to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
“The whole experience was wonderful, with everyone pulling together to help out,” Yolanda said.
The Somerville Fire Department is collecting donations – non-perishable foods, canned goods, water, new and unused baby clothing, baby formula, blankets and personal needs for the victims of Hurricane Sandy on Friday, Nov. 16 , noon-4 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Lincoln Hose Co. #4 Firehouse on Warren Street.