THE ROCKAWAYS — A coalition of Irish and Irish-American groups are heading to the areas hardest-hit by Hurricane Sandy this weekend to spread some holiday cheer and help clean up.
Volunteers from Irish organizations across the city, organized by the Irish consulate in Manhattan, will meet at seven locations on Saturday morning to participate in the second "Irish Day of Action," a volunteer effort to aid victims of the storm.
From there, buses will take the volunteers to the Rockaways, Staten Island and other areas devastated by Sandy to help with the cleanup effort and to deliver gifts to children.
"Above all, our philosophy is to help anyone we can in this world," said New York Irish Center director Paul Finnegan.
For Saturday's "Meitheal na Nollaig" — or, "Christmas Gathering of Workers" — the groups have planned a "Christmas Shoe Box Appeal," emulating similar outreach done by a charity in Ireland called Team Hope, which each year collects shoe boxes filled with presents and delivers them to children in need across the globe.
The New York groups will collect shoe boxes for children in the historically Irish Rockaways, as well as in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx, containing small necessities like school supplies, hygiene items and clothing, along with books and toys.
"It brings a very welcome change and positivity to these kids in the worst circumstances," said Jane McCarter, from the New York Irish Center.
The previous "Irish Day of Action" on Nov. 24 saw about 1,000 volunteers, and Finnegan hopes that this time the effort is even more successful.
"Sandy created a lot of turmoil around a lot of communities around the region," Finnegan said. "Hopefully the second day of action will be even more successful than the first day."
The second Irish Day of Action takes place this Saturday, Dec. 15. Buses will leave from one of seven locations at 7 a.m. To sign up or learn how to create a Christmas shoe box, click here.