OCEANSIDE — When Oceanside Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Nydegger heard of the devastating effects of super storm Sandy his first thoughts were how could he help.Nydegger has always felt a fun connection with the community of Oceanside, N.Y., because of the shared name. His curiosity led him to contact the Chamber of Commerce several years ago. He learned that the East Coast community of Oceanside is an unincorporated area within the town of Hempstead located on Long Island.
After the storm hit he felt compelled to help the unofficial sister city.
“I had seen New York in trouble,” Nydegger said. “I was determined to do something no matter what.”
It took Nydegger a few days to get in touch with Gail Carlin from the Chamber of Commerce. Initially, two-thirds of the community of 35,000 residents was underwater and all households were without power.
“They went around and ID’d homes,” Nydegger said. “A green marker said go in, a yellow marker said can’t go in need to restore the power, and a red maker said we’re tearing it down.”
When Nydegger asked Carlin what residents needed, the answer was not food and blankets.
“It was weird things like coats, toothbrushes, toothpaste,” Nydegger said.
He quickly organized a fundraiser to collect donations and sent the funds in gift cards.
The fundraiser challenge was to “like” the Oceanside, Calif. Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. For each “like” the page received the chamber pledged to donate $1 up to a maximum of $2,000.
Within five days 4,000 “likes” had been posted.
The challenge also motivated people to drop off monetary donations. Nydegger began collecting donations through the Oceanside Chamber Foundation to pass on to New York.
“Strangers would walk in and donate,” Nydegger said. “Every penny goes to Oceanside, N.Y.”
Cleanup efforts are under way and schools have reopened, but life is still a long way from normal.
“It will change lives forever,” Nydegger said.
Nydegger said he currently has no end date to stop collecting donations. His new goal is to raise $10,000.