DERBY LINE – On a warm day last month, Dave and Kelley Robinson were one of a handful of old car enthusiasts who went on a cruise throughout the state. As they entered the Hartford area, the Robinsons saw the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene, which had hit the region a week earlier. A little further in town, the couple saw young children searching the fields for their lost toys.
“That hurt,” said Dave Robinson. “It reminded me of things back in the 1950s. A lot of kids grew up around here with nothing.”
That scene pulled on the Robinsons' heartstrings so much that they decided to do something about it and organized a collection effort at Tivoly, Dave's place of employment, for toys, clothing, food, money, furniture and other items.
On Tuesday, employees filled a trailer with the items. All plant employees and their families took part in the collection, which lasted a couple of weeks.
“This has been an extremely big group effort,” said Janice Lamourex, human resources manager for Tivoly. “I loved the idea that someone from the workforce came forth and asked if we could do this together. That meant a lot to me. Working to help others is priceless.”
Wally Watson, president of the Internal Association of Machinists Local 1829, called the effort an "awesome" thing to do.
“We’re trying to get everything situated so we can make a joint effort between the company and the union to make things work and get everything down there,” added Marc Haselton, chief steward of the International Association of Aero Space Workers. “People need help; that’s why we’re going to help them. That’s what Vermonters do. We help them out.”
The collection is something nice the company was able to do together, said Dave Robinson, who is delighted with the merchandise collected by the employees. His children, friends and family got into the act and donated personal items.
Robinson expressed gratitude for everyone involved with the collection. “You can’t put a price on all the items that have been donated and the effort that went into it,” said Watson.
Employees also collected well over $400 in cash.
The items will be distributed to storm victims who provide their paperwork from FEMA. Salvation Army staff will take them through the warehouse that has clothing, furniture, kitchenware, small household items and food. There is no cost to the victims. The warehouse will be closing at the end of the month. Anything left over will be brought to thrift shops and food pantries.
The Salvation Army, even after it closes the warehouse, will help people on a case-by-case basis.