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Charity braves chill to assist storm victims

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Volunteers from United Sikhs (l.-r. ) SatleenKaur, Gurinder Singh and Gupreet Singh pack up supplies. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Volunteers from United Sikhs stand together for a photo. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Food and clothing were handed out during an event in Springfield Gardens, organized by Church of Our Lord, Future Grads and United Sikhs. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Eishan Singh, 14, volunteers with the United Sikhs in Springfield Gardens. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Paulette Meredy, (c.) executive director of Future Grads hands a blanket to Vinina Danne (l), as her grandson Jayshan Terrell sleeps in his carriage. Photo by Christina Santucci

During the bitter cold Thanksgiving weekend, volunteers handed out hot meals, clothing and blankets at a charity drive in Springfield Gardens geared toward those hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy.

“We are giving out these things to the folks that are less fortunate,” said volunteer Carol Campbell, a member of Holiness Church of our Lord, at 122-14 Montauk St., where the drive was held Saturday.

The drive was a joint effort by the church; United Sikhs, a humanitarian advocacy organization aimed at empowering people in need; and Future Grads, an organization that helps children whose parents have been deported or are in jail and also helps with other humanitarian efforts. The Red Cross also participated.

Members of United Sikhs gave away vegetarian meals made up of vegetables, rice, spinach and Indian bread. Since Sandy Sikh temples, which are equipped with kitchens, have been making the packages, but the food had been donated Saturday by the Golden Krust Caribbean bakery, based in the Bronx.

Jatinder Singh, associate director of United Sikhs, said some people were coming to the drive from as far away as the Rockaways. He said some were traveling with help from religious congregations and others were taking buses.

He called the damage in the Rockaways heartbreaking and said some residents were still living in shelters. He said they and others affected by the storm relied heavily on aid efforts such as the food and supplies giveaway.

“People are in dire need of our stuff,” he said.

United Sikhs was one of the first groups supplying food aid in the Rockaways, said Singh, who pointed out that Sikhs had cooked and distributed about 3,000 meals at temples since the storm.

“They are so grateful when you talk to them,” he said. “Each person is one story on its own.”

Vinina Danne, who lives several blocks away in Springfield Gardens, took home blankets and other supplies from the drive. She serves as a homemaker for Jewish Care Services and travels to private residences to work with children at risk of placement in foster care.

She said she hoped to bring some of the items to the children she works with. One of her cases brought her to Rockaway after the storm.

“Where I was standing, there was nothing there,” she said.

Danne’s daughter, Sheriela Dinhan, 24, said the family has been helping out friends affected by the storm.

“I know a lot of people lost a lot of stuff where there was no lights,” she said, referring to groceries that spoiled when electricity was out.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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