Hurricane Sandy first responders get holiday meals

Hun­dreds of first re­spon­ders at the Jer­sey Shore got a taste of home for Thanks­giv­ing des­pite hav­ing been rendered home­less by the ef­fects of Hur­ricane Sandy.

  They can thank some caring Phil­adelphia col­leagues for their hol­i­day meals.

  Mem­bers of the loc­ally based Amer­ic­an First Re­spon­der In­sti­tute of Her­aldry pre­pared and de­livered more than 400 tur­key din­ners for fire­fight­ers, para­med­ics and po­lice in Sea­side Heights and Wild­wood last Thursday, in­clud­ing many who still can’t re­turn to their storm-dam­aged homes and many oth­ers who lost their homes al­to­geth­er.

  Re­tired Phil­adelphia Fire­fight­er Bill Fin­eg­an and col­leagues foun­ded the non-profit in­sti­tute in the af­ter­math of 9/11 to ad­voc­ate for and sup­port fin­an­cially the fam­il­ies of first re­spon­ders who lose their lives in the line of duty. The group also as­pires to im­prove pub­lic re­cog­ni­tion of the sac­ri­fices and con­tri­bu­tions first re­spon­ders make.

The Jer­sey Shore fire­fight­ers, para­med­ics and po­lice em­bod­ied that spir­it as they re­mained in harm’s way dur­ing the height of the storm and as they con­tin­ue to lead re­cov­ery ef­forts.

  “They stayed and did their jobs know­ing they didn’t have homes to go back to,” said Philip Weiss, pres­id­ent of the World Trade Cen­ter Res­cuers Found­a­tion and a vo­lun­teer in last week’s meal pro­gram.

Weiss met one fire­fight­er in Sea­side Heights who said that his home has been con­demned and his fam­ily is liv­ing with re­l­at­ives “two states” away. Yet, he con­tin­ues to pull 16-hour shifts in the dis­aster zone and sleeps at the fire­house.

  Crews are still pump­ing wa­ter from homes and busi­nesses, clear­ing fallen trees and work­ing to re­store in­fra­struc­ture in many areas.

  “He’s work­ing on Thanks­giv­ing,” Weiss said of the Sea­side fire­fight­er.

  About 20 vo­lun­teers gathered at Mag­gie’s Wa­ter­front Cafe in East Tor­res­dale to pre­pare the meals, which in­cluded tur­key breast, mashed pota­toes, stuff­ing, cran­berry sauce and pump­kin pie, “a tra­di­tion­al Thanks­giv­ing din­ner,” said John Nagele, the Mag­gie’s gen­er­al man­ager.

  Big Ma­chine La­bel Group of Nashville and New Jer­sey-based U.S. Foods sup­plied the meals. Oth­er con­trib­ut­ors in­cluded the Phil­adelphia po­lice and fire­fight­ers uni­ons, All Hands Work­ing, The First Twenty and the Wash­ing­ton Lodge #59 of the Free Ma­sons.••

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