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Keller Family Rallies Support For Sandy Victims

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
Bud is the most veteran reporter at CBS 11 News with 42 years in m...
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Update 11/4 – Chris Mallon and friend Steve Debenport made it to Long Island Sunday morning, driving in to Island Harvest with a ‘New York or Bust’ sign on the side of the van.  “I’m a little tired but I have enough energy to still go out to the places that need the food and water,” he told CBSNewYork.com.

KELLER (CBSDFW.COM) - Fallout from Hurricane Sandy has prompted North Texans to send help.   But few donations for the New York area have come together as spontaneously as one organized in just hours Friday, using social media, by the Mallon family of Keller.

Joyce and Chris Mallon are transplanted Long Islanders who now proudly call Texas home.  All three of their children were born here.  Until Friday they thought their old stomping grounds had missed the damage.  They found out differently.

“What went from just electric and power outages became loss of homes that were obliterated and washed out to sea,” Joyce Mallon told CBS 11 News.

Joyce’s husband was laid off recently, but even with three small children at home one thing he felt he had to give was time…and the idea grew from there.   Chris would contact the Red Cross, grab some usable items and drive them to Island Harvest, a relief group on Long Island.

Joyce ticked off items needed:  “Shelf-stable items, diapers, wipes, crackers, peanut butter, all these things, so I made one Facebook post to my friends and family here in Texas, a call to action.”

Amazingly, donations began arriving within ten minutes.  Then things really snowballed, as Joyce explained.  “And then I had people texting me, ‘I can’t get to you but I have money for you, can you go shopping for me?’ So I set up a PayPal account.   And the door kept ringing and the PayPal kept dinging and people just kept pouring in.”

Robin Rhodes, who is in a mothers group with Joyce, was among two dozen people answering the plea.  “You sit around and you watch TV and the devastation and you want to help but you don’t know where to go, and when somebody you love and trust posts a way to help, then you do it,” she said.

Word got around. Enterprise donated a van.  Walmart found out and offered gas cards to help cover some of the trip’s expenses.  The Riverside Applied Center of the Fort Worth ISD adopted the cause.

Everyone wanted to help, even 4-year-old Julianna Mallon made a donation.  “Tissues,” she said.  Why tissues?  “Because they need to blow their nose,” was her reply.

By nightfall Friday more than two thousand dollars in supplies enabled the Mallons to fill the van.  And Chris and a friend were on their way, expected in New York Sunday morning.

Mallon told CBS 11 News by phone Saturday night that part of the confusion on Long Island is that so much of the area is without power, and so few people on the island know that some of their neighbors are in serious need.

Joyce Mallon tells CBS 11 News her husband and his friend will get a police escort in Long Island so volunteers can distribute their donations.

“So much generosity; it’s beyond words,” she said, but added her plea for donations is at an end.  “I hate to say this  but please, no more drop offs…we have a ton.”

She is, however, accepting donation for two Long Island families that she says lost everything.  That can only be done by PayPal, sent to joycemallon@aol.com.

These are not tax-free charitable donations, but Mallon promises, “every red cent of that will go to these two families.”

She says she is in awe of the generosity  her fellow Texans have for those impacted back on Long Island.  “And if I sit and think about it too long I tear up and cry because I think about the devastation there.  And the people that are impacted.   But I also think about how generous people were here.”

And that kindness has lead her to confirm a popular notion about Texas.

“They say everything is bigger in Texas but I’m here to tell you that includes their hearts as well.”

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