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With ‘Project Pay-It-Forward’ Neighbors Help Neighbors Rebuild Their Storm Damaged Businesses

Pay It forward workers helped rebuild this children's play center. Credit CBS 2.

Pay It forward workers helped rebuild this children’s play center. Credit CBS 2.

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Some storm damaged businesses on Long Island are still waiting for insurance checks to come in, but others are taking matters into their own hands with an old-fashioned concept known as “paying it forward”.

When Sandy flooded Long Beach it ruined the hard work of two women who had just opened a child play center on West Beech Street, but now with the help of neighbors they have re-opened.

“”They came in and said, ‘what do you need to reopen, because we’re going to do it’,” Kristina O’Neill, Co-Owner of Seaside Celebrations told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

O’Neill is the latest recipient of “Project Pay It Forward”, an alliance of Long Beach merchants who decided to help each other, one business at a time.

“If we get one business up and running, they’ll help the next business and hopefully get us all back on our feet,” explained Michelle Kelly, owner of Earth Arts.

Businesses are helping each other with everything from physical, to legal advice, and fundraising.

The idea for pay it forward came from the frustration that business owners were feeling with the slow pace of FEMA and the insurance companies. Organizers believe that by paying it forward they can get every business back on its feet.

Organizers told CBS 2 that the goal of Pay It Forward is to get businesses open, and to keep them open. Their next target is West Elementary School in Long Beach.

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