ADAMS -- An Adams couple is spearheading a local effort to collect supplies and clothing that will be brought to victims of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.
Wayne Piaggi, a truck driver for Swift Trans portation whose route includes most of New Jersey and New York City, was spurred to create "Northern Berkshire Hur ricane Relief" after witnessing the devastation wrought by the hurricane during a trip to the Garden State last week.
The relief effort will collect nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, clothing and other household items on Saturday and Sunday at the Adams Forest Wardens station, off North Summer Street, from 9 a.m. until noon, and again on Saturday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to noon. The donations, which will be packed into a tractor-trailer, will be hauled to New Jersey by Piaggi.
"There's no electricity and just thousands of people without homes," he said Monday. "Friday night, I let a family of four -- a man, woman and two children -- sleep in my truck for a few hours. I have two beds and heat. It was the least I could do. There's one town where the people are being told not to go home. If their homes weren't knocked down by the hurricane, then they're filled with sand. There's a tanker beached on Staten Island and people in lines for miles, just waiting to get some gas."
Piaggi, who drives to New Jersey almost daily and owns his own trailer truck, along with his wife, Jennifer, decided they needed to help and put out a call for donations on Facebook on Friday. As responses started to trickle in, Wayne Piaggi secured the loan of a trailer from his employer and reached out to Town Administrator Jonathan Butler to see if the town would supply a collection site.
"People in Northern Berkshire pull together when times are tough," Piaggi said. "I thought, why not help out these people? Maybe we'll need something in the future and we'll need to rely on them."
Butler said the town is happy to help by providing a location for the trailer and donation drop-off.
"I think that when a disaster hits, people often want to help but don't know how," he said. "Northern Berkshire is known to rally around people in need. Sometimes you just need that one person to step up and Wayne is that person. He's donating his time and his own business. We're happy to offer him a site, but this is his show. He deserves the credit."
The Piaggis said they're working to find a town that needs the supplies and food items.
"We really want to make sure that people who really got hit hard get the items," Jennifer Piaggi said. "We've also had a lot of people say they want to donate money. We had one man give us all the money he had in his pockets -- a total of $27. We took that money and started an account specifically for this effort at Greylock Federal Credit Union."
Wayne Piaggi said he's hoping to connect with former residents now living in New Jersey or with an organization, such as a fire station or church, involved in one of the smaller communities near the Jersey Shore.
"It's more personal and we'll know that our donations really get to those in need," he said. He's also reached out to the New Jersey governor's office and to the American Red Cross.
He said the response from individuals who have joined the relief effort's Facebook page have already been very generous.
"I have one person who already has boxes and boxes of clothing and teddy bears and some furniture already to go," Piaggi said. "I have people asking me whether or not we can pick up donations."
For more information, visit at Northern Berkshire Hurricane Relief on Facebook.
Monetary donations should be made out to Northern Berkshire Hurricane Relief and dropped off at Greylock Federal Credit Union at 66 Main St. in North Adams.
Nonperishable and canned foods
Winter hats, coats, boots