six days at ground zero
sept 13 - 19, 2001
the trip so far...     contact kevin & aimee

 << Back to Day 15, Rhode Is.

Sept 11, 2001
The Pier
The Early Volunteers
Crossing the Hudson
First Sight
The Observation Room
Change of Priorities
The Scariest Night
Avoiding Detection
Selected Stories from GZ
Spirit of New York
More Stories from GZ
The OEM Arrives
The People
Back To The Real World
Thank You, To Everyone

Chronicle Journal, Sept 13
Personal Journal Documents Days Events

Chronicle Journal, Sept 17
Lakehead Grads in on Intense Volunteer Support Effort

NY Daily News, Sept 17
Camping at Ground Zero

Chronicle Journal, Sept 20
Hope, Horror Clearly Visible in New York

Aimee noticed that a younger volunteer was filling a plastic bag full of items. She knew exactly what he was doing. He had even commented a few times how cool something was, a shirt or a glow stick, and tossed it into his bag. He was shopping. He had already changed his boots from his old, soggy runners to a pair of new Timberlands from among the donations. He was wearing a rain slicker standing under the canopy while rescue workers were getting soaked in the Pit, or frantically trying to find raingear amongst any of the supplies. Most of the other volunteers had already given up their raingear to the firemen, and resorted to a torn garbage bag.

In an effort to make him question his actions, Aimee asked "Where are you delivering that to?" He replied, "Home," without the least bit of guilt. This was after he and his friend had spent the past few hours messing around on the golf cart that was being used to move supplies.

It's sad that a good number of the people out there felt that just because they were there helping, they were entitled to some sort of return on their investment. And what's sadder is that this feeling wasn't only limited to the volunteers.

One day, a huge shipment of boots arrived. Timberland, Workwear, Cat, brand new, either donated from a shoe store or perhaps the companies themselves. They went like wildfire. They were out by the end of the day. What's worse is that the majority of people taking the boots either didn't really need them, or they were on their way home. They were treating the donations as gifts, and saying, "I worked a long day, and I ruined my boots. I deserve a new pair." And they'd take a box and walk off the site.

The boots were clearly the hottest item, and from then on, we honestly had to guard them. We reorganized the Boot Shop so that the second hand donated boots were up front and the nice new ones were in the back. We left boxes of old boots that didn't have matching pairs in the middle, to separate the needy from the shoppers (someone in need would ask directly, shoppers would rummage for something they liked). When someone approached, we'd first look at their current boots and make a general assessment. If their boots were good, we'd show them the second hand and say "that's all we have", which for the most part was true. If we had anything new, it was maybe one pair in a particular size. We'd also ask if they were going in to work or heading home. If they were leaving, we saved the boots for the incoming. If anyone asked, "Got anymore Rockports?" they were out the door. It just made us sick when someone asked for a brand name.

Each person who arrived at the high-end item tables (boots, shovels, hard hats, respirators) had to be assessed on the basis of need. It was crucial that we didn't lose all of the new boots to an electrician or a crane operator, and have nothing left for someone standing on the pile of burning rubble with boots melting out from under him. The hardhats were in short supply, and a police officer walking the beat a block away from the pit didn't need one. There were limited amounts of all types of respirators, and we needed to know where the customer was working to assess what type of respirator they required.

Also, with the size of the rubble, there are going to be people working for months. They'll need the supplies then just as much as they do now, and unfortunately, the donations probably won't be coming in as fast once the shock has cleared and most of the world has gone back to their normal lives.

A huge ten foot sign that was placed outside of the Chapel supply area said it best: "Your Brothers will be here a month from now. Please take only what you need."

Current Location
The Chapel

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© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman.