Brighton resident Dawn Thie may have moved to Michigan seven years ago, but she'll always be a Jersey girl at heart.
And after seeing the devastation in her home state brought on by Hurricane Sandy, she's starting a fundraiser to collect supplies to send to those who lost their homes to the superstorm.
Thie's family and friends still in New Jersey, but fortunately did not suffer too much damage to their homes except for the occasional downed tree and power outages. In fact, Thie said, one relative just got power back Friday, while others still remain without.
"Everybody's like, 'Well, get a generator,'" Thie said. "Well, generators are a couple thousand dollars and they are sold out everywhere. And you only get minimal power and they have freezing temperatures there right now. So even if your home did survive, if you don't have power, you have to go to a shelter because of the freezing temperatures."
Thie said her efforts are strictly focusing on getting supplies and donations for people who have lost their homes.
Items she is requesting include hygiene products, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, deodorant, baby wipes and diapers, as well as clothing, like coats, hats, gloves, kids shoes and boots.
Another thing Thie said people are in need of is dog food. She said pets are not allowed in shelters, so they are often still occupying homes not safe for people. She is requesting people donate gift cards to Petco or other national pet chains for people to purchase pet food or cat litter.
Thie plans on sending her donations to the King of Kings Community Church, a distribution site in Manahawkin, NJ. She is currently working with local churches about shipping logistics, but said the supplies will get there, even if she has to drive them there herself.
Thie said that unfortunately, peoples' perceptions of the Jersey Shore are what they see on TV and they think that New Yorkers and New Jerseyans are all wealthy people who don't need help.
"I'm worried about all the working class, everyday people who have lost their homes," she said. "My friend's sister lost her small bungalow home and she has four kids. They have nothing. They lost everything. We're not talking about the Donald Trumps of the world. That's not who I'm focused on and those people wouldn't be going to shelters anyways."
After Hurricane Sandy passed, Thie contacted national organizations like the Red Cross, Goodwill and the Salvation Army (SA) to see if there were any local drives she could become a part of. But she was told the Red Cross has their own supply chain, so to speak, and Goodwill and the SA are more regional, she said.
"Nobody that I'm aware, and this is me talking to a lot of these major organizations, is driving out-of-state donation collections," she said. "That means that only people in the immediate areas are giving donations. That tells me there's a big need. I also know that the need is great because my mother, sister and aunt have been working at King of Kings every single day."