In addition to the clothing, which has a retail value of nearly $200,000, UniFirst and its employees also donated $6,000 for Red Cross relief efforts, and needed clothing and other items for hurricane victims on Staten Island.
Catalina Dongo, the human resources manager at UniFirst's corporate office, helped to organize the donation efforts after numerous employees had asked how they could help the victims.
"I made some inquiries and it quickly became a UniFirst team effort," Dongo said. "Virtually everyone in our corporate office and our hundreds of locations throughout the U.S. and Canada supported the relief effort."
Little Ferry, with 11,000 residents, was ultimately selected to receive the clothing items after learning it was among the areas most devastated by Hurricane Sandy in late October. The storm caused berms holding back the Hackensack River to fail and send flood waters as high as eight feet into the township within 30 minutes. Many of Little Ferry's residents were still repairing damage caused by Hurricane Irene just 14 months earlier when Sandy hit.
"We've had uniform rental and laundering facilities in New Jersey servicing area businesses for many years, so it was particularly gratifying that we could help some of our 'neighbors' in need," said Richard Powell, UniFirst general manager in Whippany, who helped to deliver the clothing items to the Little Ferry Memorial Middle School, where members of the Knights of Columbus, an organization that supports charitable and relief efforts, helped to unload ten pallets of UniFirst clothing.
Among those most appreciated of the truck's arrival was Mayor Mauro D. Raguseo who noted the UniFirst donation was of critical importance given the approaching colder weather. "We will be forever thankful to UniFirst," he said.
Since even 7,000-plus clothing items can only go so far, Mayor Raguseo said distribution would target the neediest. He explained that staff and teachers at the middle school would, in part, make that determination by watching for children arriving to school without winter jackets or lacking warm outerwear. Although total recovery will take some time, Mayor Raguseo said, "We're resilient. When they say 'Jersey strong', come to Little Ferry; you'll see 'Jersey strong'."
UniFirst a North American leader in the supply and servicing of uniforms, workwear, and protective clothing, outfits more than 1.5 million workers each business day.
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