NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Thousands of people in the Tri-State area are still putting their lives together after they were shattered by Superstorm Sandy. Many of them don’t have the time or resources to buy holiday gifts for their loved ones, but Long Island attorney Michael Santo is trying to change that.
Santo is spreading Christmas cheer by delivering gifts to Long Island residents who were affected by the storm. Santo has been giving gifts to the needy for the past seventeen years, this year he is focusing on hurricane victims.
“There are families who would ordinarily give to this project, not receive. These are families that didn’t ask to be hit by Sandy,” Santo said, “These are folks who wouldn’t pick up the phone and say ‘I need help’, they’re not asking for it.”
Santo and his helpers are giving them a hand anyway. They have already delivered hundreds of gifts to more than twenty families in Hempstead, East Rockaway, and Long Beach.
“It is wonderful, and it means so much to me that somebody like Santa is helping me,” said Long Beach resident Rosita Kwietniewska.
Kwietniewska and her son have been living in a donated apartment since their home was lost during the storm.
For Santo the holidays are all about emulating Santa Claus.
“Santa emulates the season of giving, Santa emulates the children’s friend, Santa emulates all of the good things about Christmas,” he explained to CBS 2′s Drew Levinson.
Santo isn’t the only one reaching out to Sandy victims this holiday season, an online charity started after the storm has been bringing holiday cheer to one of the hardest hit communities.
“We haven’t bought them as big gifts as normal, just trying to get them things but the people who have donated gifts have been awesome,” said Deborah Rosenhause.
Rosenhause’s son Matthew lost most of his toys when Sandy flooded the family’s basement, and the cost of rebuilding threatened to wipe out Christmas.
To help families like the Rosenhauses, Joy Huang created the online charity ‘Secret Sandy’ after helping a friend clean up after the storm.
“Her son saw us throwing out his toys and was so upset, not understanding what he had done to have his toys thrown out,” she told CBS 2′s Marlie Hall.
Secret Sandy is allowing online donors to make sure that the magic of Christmas is not lost this year. The organization has received enough donations to give Christmas presents to two-thousand victims.
Parents told CBS 2 that Secret Sandy is helping to save Christmas.
“We didn’t expect some special angels like this, I’m blown away with how generous people have been,” said Marissa Perrotta.
The charity plans to continue accepting donations to help people affected by Sandy all year round.
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