A passionate effort to Restore the Shore, a humble request for help.
Five days after Super Storm Sandy ended her assault on the New Jersey shoreline, the first truck pulled out of the Eastern Mountain Sports Warrington, PA store parking lot. Behind it was a small box trailer jam-packed with gear and food donated by store manager Chris Blackway’s friends, customers and neighbors.
Two and a half months, 13,000 pounds of supplies and $5,000 in donations later, the trucks are STILL rolling out of the Warrington store parking lot bound for the Jersey shore and Chris wants to keep them going. “I consider New Jersey to be my second home and the source of connection to my strongest outdoor passion, surfing,” Chris says. It’s this connection that inspired Chris and his friend Adam Beamer to ask everyone they knew to donate anything they could to help the victims of Super Storm Sandy. “Because of the size of the store I manage in Warrington, I opened the doors as a collection site and stored the product in the backroom. We joked about getting an overwhelming response from our community, not knowing that it would in fact become an overwhelming response from the entire Philadelphia area.”
When the donations started arriving, Chris quickly realized he needed a place to take them. That’s when a friend connected him with Pete Dispirito, co-owner of the surf-inspired company ERGO Clothing of Lakewood, NJ. Thanks to previous collaborations, Pete already had a relationship with Waves For Water, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing clean water to communities in need around the world. Waves For Water has a lot of support from the surf community so their response to help Super Storm Sandy victims was instantaneous. Using ERGO Clothing’s warehouse as a donation distribution center, Wave’s For Water coordinated the delivery of food, clothing, and emergency supplies to the displaced people who so desperately needed them.
While the rescue and recovery efforts are over, Chris, ERGO, and Waves for Water are all equally passionate about helping out with the demolition and rebuilding of homes and businesses to Restore the Shore. In order to bring a more coordinated message to his community Chris and his friends became the Pennsylvania Chapter of Restore The Shore Projects. As Chris explains: “We are hosting a few events and have been chosen to be the recipients of donations at various charity events, all in the name of Waves for Water. We are now hosting a fundraising drive on indiegogo to raise a simple $500 to fill our RTSP-PA Chapter trailer that is sitting in Lavallette, NJ with building supplies. To give you an example if every one of EMS’ fans on Facebook gave $5 we will raise $207,140!! Now, spread that number through all of their friends and we have the chance to, literally, rebuild coastal NJ and NY.”
If raising over $200k sounds too ambitious, it’s really not when you consider that the Restore the Shore line of clothing ERGO has raised over $300,000 for Waves for Water. All it takes is a little bit of sacrifice from a lot of people, something Chris has seen firsthand: “My staff at Eastern Mountain Sports Warrington has been instrumental in our efforts to raise donations. There have been many times where they would clock out and help sort the piles of donations in the backroom. I would like to thank them for their patience while the breakroom was inundated with donations.”
If you’re inspired to help Chris crush his $500 goal, please CLICK HERE to go to his indiegogo page. To learn a little more about about Chris, his friends, and their shared passion for restoring the shore, check out their video.