Patch asked Eric Birdsall of Birdie's Auto Spa in Rye to tell us why he decided to help victims of Hurricane Sandy in Rockaway and how his trip went. Please read his account below. Thank you to Eric for sharing his story and thank you to thethe many other people involved with donating and making this trip happen. To read more about how you can help victims in Rockaway, click here.
We had power at the car wash as of last Tuesday at 4:30pm! But with so many people without power and struggling to stay warm, find gas and feed their families, the car wash business has been pretty non-existent. I found myself watching the news at work 24/7 and realizing that Westchester’s problems can’t even compare to the bomb that was dropped on the coast line.
After my wife Christine and I watched the benefit concert Friday night, both of us teary eyed, we realized we needed to do something to help. We came to work Saturday morning and emailed our customers with the hopes of filling my dad, Skip’s van and driving out to find those in need.
The response from the community over the 3 days of collecting was unbelievable!! Cars kept pulling into the car wash with all types of items. Hats off to the Rye Patch for helping promote the coat drive as well as all my customers who began forwarding our email to friends & family.
Upon coming to work Tuesday morning, we realized that our garage was busting at the seams with the couple of thousand items we had collected and we were never going to fit them in the van. At the last minute we contacted our friends Dave Kucera, Greg Kucera & Ricky Berlingo at County Coach Corp. Without hesitation, Dave’s response was “you have a heart of gold kid and the bus will be there in a couple of minutes”.
County Coach not only donated a new school bus, gas, tolls and Ricky Berlingo to drive us, but Ricky also came and helped us bag all the sorted items and load the bus.
I found online that the American Legion in Far Rockaway, NY was aiding all the victims in the Rockaways and the Breezy Point area where all those homes burned to the ground. Upon arriving in the bus at the American Legion, we found they were inundated with all kinds of items. Marty Seeny from the Legion suggested we head to the 100th Precinct in Far Rockaway, just 1 block from the Atlantic Ocean and right in the heart of the devastation that Sandy has left on our coast line.
We were able to park the bus right at a polling table set up in the parking lot of the beach. We found hundreds of people in the streets, with no homes, food and just the clothes on their back. My employees began unloading the approx 80 construction garbage bags which filled the entire school bus onto the sidewalk to curious eyes. Realizing that the bags were filled with winter clothes a crowd began to gather. My wife was putting a bag down and telling a woman that the bag had girls clothes in it and her little son said to my wife, “But I’m a little boy”. We made sure to pull the boys bags out next!!
Then a man taking a video of me unloading the bags off the back of the bus walked up to me and said, “Where did God send you from”? I said, “Westchester”.
-Eric Birdsall - Owner/Operator of Birdie's Auto Spa, 180 Theodore Fremd Avenue, Rye, NY 10580, (914) 438-5729, www.Birdiesautospa.com