'We took the great to Sea Bright'
It all started with a Facebook post and blossomed into a countywide effort to help another community in need.
Last week, Kevin Steber, a Summit Hill volunteer firefighter, posted that he "can no longer sit here and watch all this devastation in N.J.!! I became good friends with the Fire Chief in Sea Bright, Chad (Murphy), when they bought their KME fire truck earlier this year and they have lost EVERYTHING in their borough, including their fire station. This was one of the hardest hit areas of N.J. This level of destruction is absolutely gut wrenching for me to watch and I can tell his emotions through texts and FB posts."
Steber asked friends and family to donate a few cases of water and supplies, and he and his fiancee, Kira Michalik, were going to pack up their Jeep and drive the supplies down to Murphy.
But what Steber didn't realize was that this post would unite, not only friends and family, but spread and reach his community and the county as well.
"I never imagined it would grow to the size it did," Steber said of the donations they brought down a 53-foot tractor trailer and U-Haul full of supplies, food and clothing. "It's impossible to thank everybody though for their help so thank you, thank you, thank you."
Steber's friend, Franklin Klock, who also helped with organizing the donation and sorting efforts, emphasized Steber's sentiment, saying, "The beauty part of all this is none of us knew anyone down there except for Kevin knowing Chad and the people donated and spent time sorting anyway. Some who helped didn't even know us. They saw it on Facebook and said 'I'm going to go and help.'"
Klock, Steber and Michalik said that they didn't know at least three quarters of the people that filled the Summit Hill Community Center in the evenings when sorting efforts were taking place.
"We put on Facebook that we needed help and they showed up," Michalik said. "It was amazing. I feel like we pulled all the communities together."
Klock said that all efforts were recognized, from the donations water, cleaning supplies, food, and clothing, to the can of corn a child brought in during the borough's trick-or-treat night.
"This was for a common cause to help others," he said.
He especially wanted to thank the local businesses who provided supplies for the group's efforts.
"I want to say a special thank you to the local businesses who didn't have to do anything but did everything they could," Klock said. "We got some help from large corporations, but the majority was from local businesses through discounts and freebies and buy one and I'll get you two or give you two. Those are the businesses you need to support because they support us."
Steber added that in addition to local residents donating, Facebook helped them reach a larger radius and some of the donations surprised him, including donations from a troop of Girl Scouts and Brownies in Kutztown; as well as a third-grade class in Williamsport.
"It took a lot of people to pull this off," he said. "I'm the only one that knew Chad but I'm not the only person who made this happen. Everybody that shared the page, liked the page, linked the page, posted on the page, brought a donation, sorted the donations, brought food to the fire house, said 'that's Coal Region right there, thank you. You said we were great, no we (Steber, Klock and Michalik) are not great, we didn't do anything that's great."
"We only organized the great," Klock added.
"We took the great to Sea Bright," Steber said. "I would do it all over again tomorrow if they needed it."