Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hurricane Sandy victims get 500 coats from Wood River Valley

Leslie Silva’s campaign started with phone call to East Coast

Express Staff Writer

A recent coat drive for victims of Hurricane Sandy drew volunteers from Sun Valley Transfer and Storage. (From left) John Gibson, Thomas Black, Leslie Silva and Dillon Cenarrusa. Courtesy photo

Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast in late October, devastating many states along the eastern seaboard. Thanks to a local effort spanning two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, 500 warm coats were delivered to victims of the storm in New York.

Leslie Silva, the wife of Sun Valley Resort General Manager Tim Silva, began a coat collection campaign for Sandy victims after reaching out to a friend in New York City. 

“When the hurricane hit, I was hearing everything on the news and it sounded horrific. People want to be able to help when something bad happens. When I put the word out it, gave people the opportunity,” Silva said. 

Silva serves on the Community Library Board and donates time to the Senior Connection, Hemingway Elementary School, and other organizations in the valley. She and her husband moved to the valley three years ago from Truckee, Calif.

Silva’s coat drive began when she called Colleen Daly, former executive director of the Community Library in Ketchum who is now living in New York City, to see if she needed help in the wake of the storm. Daly said she was fine but that word was getting out that victims of the storm would need coats as winter approached.

“Colleen said she would be donating time to New York Cares, which would help sort and distribute the coats. I knew it was a legitimate organization and that the coats would get to the people who need them,” Silva said.

Silva set a goal of gathering 500 coats in two weeks for shipment to New York. She called friends, used Facebook and set up drop-off points at the Community Library and at Sun Valley Resort.

“They needed to get to New York by the first week of December,” she said. “People of all ages and from all walks of life helped me gather coats. One woman was walking into the library and saw the drop-off point for the coat drive. She had just returned from the East Coast where she had been visiting her mother. She was crying to me on the phone. She said she had been wondering what she could do to help and so got involved and helped out a great deal.”

Silva said another woman was celebrating her 40th birthday by performing 40 random acts of kindness. She saw the coat drive and went to the Gold Mine thrift store to get a coat for Sandy victims. 

“The Gold Mine ended up giving her the coat for her donation,” Silva said.

When local businesses got wind of the coat drive, Scott USA donated brand new coats. Sun Valley Co. workers also came through with numerous coats. Sun Valley Transfer & Storage workers donated time to pick the coats up for transport to the East Coast.

“Even after a long day they were happy to help us out,” Silva said. 

Silva said the coat drive was a “very emotional experience” for her. 

“Imagine if we had a crisis here,” she said. “I would hope somebody would step forward for us. It only takes that first step.”


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