Rotary offers a way to help hurricane victims

SARANAC LAKE — Those who want to donate to victims of Hurricane Dorian can now do so through the Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation.

Last week, the Category 5 hurricane damaged or destroyed 13,000 homes and left 70,000 homeless in the Bahamas, according to ShelterBox USA, which had a team there Saturday assessing the damage. Michael Preis, who is associated with the Saranac Lake Rotary Club, said he had decided to do something when he saw pictures of the devastation Friday.

“It just reminded me so much of the pictures of Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945,” Preis said.

He wanted to donate, and to help others who were moved by what happened to donate as well. But he wasn’t sure how to go about it. He said if he did it by himself, he wasn’t sure many people would know who he is and that he wouldn’t be able to reach as many people.

The Saranac Lake Rotary Club stepped in. People can now donate through the Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation. The money will be used to buy shelter boxes from ShelterBox for those in need.

Preis said he’d heard of ShelterBox, as it is an affiliate of Rotary International. Each box donated will provide a family with essentials to rebuild and survive in what Dorian left behind.

Preis said each box is a big plastic tub filled with basic tools such as saws and hammers, a solar-powered light, blankets and ground sheets, water purifiers and storage, mosquito netting and school supplies for kids.

Donations have already been made, including this past weekend at the end of the Adirondack Canoe Classic and at the Saranac Lake Farmers Market. Preis said enough money was raised for two shelter boxes.

Hannah Hanford, president of the Saranac Lake Rotary Club, said she believes the donations are important, as it provides temporary housing and help for those when they need it most.

“I believe many want to respond in a crisis, but are hesitant because they are unsure if their donation will actually make it to the people impacted by disaster,” Hanford wrote in an email to the Enterprise. “Rotary International works with the Shelter Box program because the organization has proven its worth over the years through efficiency and effectiveness.”

Those willing to donate can do so through the Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation. The mailing address is P.O. Box 310, Ray Brook, NY 12977. Checks made to the foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, according to Preis.