From picket lines to storm shelters, members of the Occupy Wall Street movement are focusing their efforts away from financial districts and town centers and onto the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Through “Occupy Sandy” they’re organizing volunteers, distributing donations and holding fundraisers.
“It’s not any shift in terms of what most people think of Occupy,” said Ed Needham, an Occupy press team member and organizer. “What we really do is community building and trying to identify places where people’s needs aren’t being met.”
Their latest effort turns the wedding registry concept on its head by creating a large-scale Amazon registry just for Sandy victims. But you won’t find pillow cases and hand towels on this list -- it’s all about the essentials. Popular items include diapers, flashlights, gas cans and generators.
"We’re getting details coming in from neighborhoods on what people need,” said Alex Nordenson, co-creator of the registry. “It started out with lighting and cleaning supplies, and even clothes, but now since there’s all the destruction, a lot of construction equipment is being put on there.”
Nordenson came up with the registry with the help of his roommate and girlfriend. None of them had any affiliation with the Occupy Movement before volunteering with them last weekend.
“We don’t have an official stance on Occupy movement,” Nordenson said. “What we identified with was how effective their organizational structure is. There’s no one in charge, but people are so motivated and smart and capable within the movement that they’re doing work fast.”
The donation process is as simple as any other Amazon registry purchase. Visitors choose and buy the items they want, then they’re shipped directly to a volunteer center in Brooklyn. Occupiers then distribute the items to those in need.
Since the registry began last Saturday afternoon, they’ve already had nearly 7,000 individual items donated, totaling an estimated $100,000.
Nordenson says donations are climbing fast, and they're hoping to appeal to people who want to know their contributions are going straight to the people who need them.
“I think what 'Occupy Sandy' is doing is taking a different approach and getting things done really fast instead of trying to drive $10 donations on a cell phone where you don’t really know where it’s going ,” he said.