CHAZY — For some victims of Hurricane Sandy, comfort came in the form of handmade quilts that are likely especially welcome now that winter has set in.
The personal touch was part of efforts made by Rick Laurin, president of the Chazy Lions Club, and by Lions Club chapters in northern New York. Money, clothing and blankets were donated by clubs in Chazy, Plattsburgh, Peru, Malone, Potsdam and Lisbon, near Potsdam.
Laurin noted that wherever he called, people were eager to help.
Then, he said, “I just packed up my truck.”
Driving down solo with relief supplies in November, he met up with Lions Clubs members in the affected area to distribute the supplies and volunteer for relief work.
In a truck full of provisions, the homemade quilts were a special feature.
“My wife (Priscilla) and I, and some of our family, have been making quilts for a couple of years now,” Laurin explained. “When we first heard of the storm, we got a lot more of the family involved.”
To finish the quilts, they had a “tying party” at their house one weekend.
A quilt consists of a top and bottom with a layer of warm batting in the middle. Tying the three layers at intervals with yarn is quicker than quilting around the individual blocks of fabric that make up the top.
Among the family members making the quilts and helping at the tying party were Laurin’s father, Walter, 81, and his mother, Rita Rae, 79.
“For them, it’s both about doing something good and doing something with the family.”
‘A LOT OF NEED’
In the end, Rick was able to bring eight handmade quilts to the hurricane victims — four queen-size and four for children.
When he arrived on Staten Island 12 days after the hurricane, he found devastation.
“The pictures (he took) say a lot more than I do. There were a lot of volunteers helping, but there was a lot of need.”
He recalled how water-damaged items and materials, including electrical boxes, televisions and Sheetrock from the walls of homes, were simply thrown on the street to be hauled away by the city.
Police were on every corner directing traffic — even where the stoplights were working.
Laurin wanted to thank the Lions Clubs for their help and mentioned how James Carlin of the Beekmantown club had been down the week before to bring relief supplies and volunteer.
“He gave me some contacts.”
Once Laurin had dropped off his own supplies, he joined a group cleaning out homes some 10 blocks from the ocean, yet still ravaged by water.
Crews tore out walls, insulation, paneling.
“We went in and cleaned it up, bagged it all up,” Rick said.
They hauled out ruined furniture, appliances and other contents, too.
One elderly man whose residence was wrecked is a member of the American Legion.
“He put his legionnaire stuff on and came out and had his picture taken with the Lions Club.”
All in all, Laurin was happy to be part of relief efforts.
“We went down there to do a little bit of work that we could,” he said, including the Lions from clubs around the devastation. “Everybody seemed very appreciative.”
An illness a few years ago gave him a new perspective on what means most in life; the trip to Staten Island reinforced that.
“It reminded me that a house is a house — people make it a home.”
— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.