By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
It was smooth sailing March 27 and 28 at the newly opened “House in A Box Distribution Center” on South Roller Road, Ocean, as 16 families who lost everything to the pounding surf and howling winds of Superstorm Sandy received just about everything needed to set up housekeeping once again.
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The program is sponsored by the Trenton Diocesan Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society partnering with funding support from the American Red Cross and Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton.
The families, including residents of badly battered Union Beach, Brick and Point Pleasant, are among the first of scores who will benefit from the St. Vincent de Paul “House in a Box” national program officially launched in the Trenton Diocese at a March 27 open house, the day before the trucks started rolling in and out of the big bay doors of the 7,250-square-foot warehouse.
During the open house, a walk-through of the vast space carefully lined with new furnishings for 100 families, Joe Williams, president of the Trenton Diocesan Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, had expressed concerns as to whether the operation would run smoothly, but he need not have worried.
It was a delighted Williams who related two days later that everything had rolled along nicely with the family members – who were responsible for providing the trucks and handling the loading – “getting in and out” as he put it – in just about half an hour.
Those trucks rolled in empty over the next two days but when they left, they were stocked to their ceilings with new household furnishings including beds and dressers for each family member, a sofa for each family, dining table and chairs, pots and pans, dishes, glassware, silverware, bedding and towels.
It was, as the families told Williams who coordinated and is overseeing the relief effort, a real answer to prayers, so long anticipated and hoped for. In fact, tears were shed during the pick-up process as families realized their uncomfortable days and nights were drawing to an end.
The families were especially thrilled by the new sets of beds and accompanying bedding, said Williams, who oversaw the monumental task of setting up the warehouse with the furnishings which will outfit 100 families.
“Families were so thrilled to have beds to sleep on,” said Williams, who noted that many families who lost everything to Sandy have been sleeping on makeshift bedding, even on floors, since the storm.
“One woman told me as her family was leaving that this would be the first night she would be sleeping on a mattress in 18 months,” Williams said.
He added that perhaps as many as 200 more families may receive household goods from the program which runs out of the St. Vincent de Paul national distribution center in Texas.
Those interested in volunteering to help with the distribution which takes place on Fridays and Saturdays may call 732-493-4745 or go to www.volunteersignup.org/bxtrt