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Website Lets Volunteers 'Adopt' Staten Island Sandy Victims

By Nicholas Rizzi | December 14, 2012 10:53am

STATEN ISLAND — Forget just making a donation — an organization is helping families "adopt" Staten Island victims of Hurricane Sandy.

"It Takes a Family" links people wanting to help to individuals impacted by the storm,  who share a list of exactly what they need.

“I think that people like the personal connection,” said Corine Ingrassia, one of the co-founders of the site. “People know where their money is going to, they in a way feel a connection with the family.

“It gives a personalization to it, and they know exactly what the family's needs are and they know their donations are answering a specific need."

So far, the website has helped more than 100 families around Staten Island. More than 400 people have signed up to help.

The site did its first donation drive for Thanksgiving, and is working on a second for Christmas.

Ingrassia, who lives in New Jersey but grew up on Staten Island, said she did not expect to get such a large number of people who wanted to donate to families.

“We didn’t expect it at all,” she said. “The volunteers were pouring in way faster than families initially.”

The site is currently run by Ingrassia and Melissa Chapman, both owners and editors of online parenting websites, who place volunteers with families in need.

Families can sign up to get help on the site themselves but, more often, neighbors or friends will nominate one.

“A lot of these families that are finding themselves with nothing are usually on the giving side of donating,” Ingrassia said. “They’re usually just getting comfortable with, or usually not comfortable with, getting help.”

Generally, volunteers do not deliver donations in person.

The website receives donations from local people and some all over the country, including a donation from a law firm in New Orleans.

“They knew exactly what they've gone through,” said Ingrassia. “They really were able to help [the family] in a big way. They used the money to get started on rebuilding.”

She's hoping the service will continue after Christmas.

“We would love to because we've had such a great, positive response,” she said. “But it’s a lot to manage. Right now, it is just Melissa and I.”

She said she was in talks with other organizations who could potentially take over handling the families donations.