MIDLAND BEACH — Relief workers in Staten Island are heading to Oklahoma to help another devastated community.
Aiman Youssef, 42, who set up the Midland Avenue Neighborhood Relief Center on the empty lot where his home once sat, said he had to help after watching TV footage of Monday’s tornado that ripped through Moore, Ok.
“My heart was pumping so hard,” Youssef said. “If I could run, I would run to them immediately. I promised them I’m going there to help them with anything I can.”
Youssef, along with another volunteer in the Rockaways, has been collecting canned food, baby clothes and hygiene supplies to donate to the tornado's victims. He was planning to rent a truck and drive to Oklahoma Wednesday.
He intends to set up a relief hub similar to his on Midland Avenue, then return every two to three weeks to check in.
“Our point is to establish a hub first for the people to come together,” he said. “We don’t want to leave them alone.”
Youssef said that after Sandy storm hit Staten Island, help came from all over the country.
“They did not give up on us," he said. "They were here."
Other Sandy relief organizations in the borough have similar plans, and will send aid and supplies down to Oklahoma, the Staten Island Advance originally reported.
The Stephen Siller Foundation will send two, 50 foot trucks to Oklahoma on Monday and set up a small relief center to help out tornado victims.
“That’s what we do, we help people in need,” said Terri Magnuski, manager of the foundation. “It was a no brainer.”
The group will accept donations at their 2145 Hylan Blvd. location until the trucks leave on Monday, and Magnuski said people are especially in need of blankets, baby goods, toiletries and non-perishable food.
“These people have nothing left so they need everything,” Magnuski said.
“It’s amazing,” he said about the response. “I love the people of Staten Island.”