A Hamilton mother is on the road to the New York City borough of Queens on Thursday morning to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
For Martha Hale Farrell, it is her way to help after rescue workers and American Red Cross volunteers were so caring and helpful to her after the loss of her sister in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Her sister, Maile Hale, worked in Cambridge and was attending a two-day conference at the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center when terrorists struck it in 2001. A month after the attacks – Hale remembers it like it was yesterday – she was attending a memorial service at Ground Zero.
As she was leaving, she needed directions to the family center and found some Red Cross volunteers.
“As I approached them for directions I was shaking from both the emotional shock of the day and the physical cold of the night that was setting in.,” she said.
Without hesitation, they rush toward Farrell – a stranger – to help.
“’Oh Honey,’” Farrell said they cried, “You’re freezing.”’
“They surrounded me, gathering me up in their arms, and these little old ladies who were each it seemed half my size started warm me with their own bodies,” Farrell said.
She has not forgotten the warmth and caring of those women.
“In the years that have followed I have thought about those little old ladies often, and in an attempt to pay their kindness forward I have emulated them when tragedy has struck anyone around me,” she said.
Farrell collected so many items this week that it nearly filled a room at her Hamilton Avenue home. She had originally planned to make the tip in her sport utility vehicle but later decided to rent a minivan to hold it all.
“It’s an amazing problem to have,” she said.
Farrell noted that Rockaway, the seaside village in the borough of Queens that was one of the hardest hit in the storm, is home to many firefighters and police officers.
“We can’t fix everything but we can help some,” Farrell said. “Just the littlest things help.”
The items include everything from clothing and blankets to brooms and shovels. There’s also bleach, cleaning supplies, baby wipes, diapers, medical supplies, bread, gloves, mops, contractor trash bags and batteries.
The effort started with an e-mail to friend and neighbors and many of the first people to donate were members of the Hamilton-Wenham Mother’s Club.
She also credited her friend Hilary Esdaile for spreading the word.
“Hilary just pushed it out there,” Farrell said.
She also posted it on her Facebook page and the word spread.
“A couple people showed up at my door that I’ve never met before,” she said.
She is headed to one of two churches in the area that have been serving as collection points for donations.
And while Farrell is on the road, she said that collections are still being taken at Ananda Shanti Yoga Studios in Manchester-by-the-Sea and Cranney Companies in Danvers. Cranney plans to make a trip to New York with one of its trucks on Saturday.