As Paul Finnegan puts it, volunteering is not one separate group helping out another, but one part of a community helping out a different part of the same one.
This was the idea at the second Irish Day of Action in the Rockaways on Saturday, December 15 as volunteers from different Irish culture groups bused down to the peninsula to lend a helping hand. Volunteers were set up at different areas throughout the islet to help in the continued efforts to get Rockaway back on its feet.
Finnegan, the executive director of the New York Irish Center in Long Island City, said the goal of the program was to “rally as many volunteers available to go there and basically just do a day’s work in the rebuilding process in the Rockaways.”
Nearly 600 “shoebox” Christmas gifts were assembled and packaged at P.S. 104 in Far Rockaway, according to Finnegan. He went on to explain that these were shoe boxes, assembled by volunteers, that were filled with small toys to help give storm-affected children something to smile about this season.
The organizers, including the Irish Consulate to New York, opted for the Rockaways because it was close to many of the city’s culture centers, and because of the large Hibernian population on the peninsula.
“There are many affected areas but we have focused on the Rockaways,” Finnegan said. “It’s close to our center, the Irish community organizations, and it’s very much a part of the community.”
This the second time a relief day had been organized by the New York Irish community to help Sandy recover. The first, held on Saturday, November 24, saw a number of people turn out to help those who had practically lost everything.