La Grange collection to aid Staten Island residents
La Grange organizer Jack Kielczynski and Kevin Simon, a member of the Sign of the Cross Church in La Grange, hold up a banner made to promote a hurricane relief effort. | Jane Michaels~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 4:48PM
LA GRANGE — Jack Kielczynski is spearheading a supply drive to aid victims of Superstorm Sandy on New York’s Staten Island.
“I’ve been watching this debacle on the East Coast on TV with the hurricane and the terrible conditions for people,” said the retired police officer. “I thought I’d rent a truck and get a little collection organized.”
In addition, the owners of the Grapevine restaurant, 9 W. Hillgrove Ave., are collecting supplies through Nov. 15 with several Greek Orthodox churches in the Chicago area. Details are at ToughTruckTommy.wordpress.com.
Kielczynski, who worked for police departments in Skokie, Elk Grove and Metra, picked up a 16-foot truck Monday and parked it in the lot between Horton’s Home Lighting and Q BBQ, 70 S. La Grange Road, with the owners’ blessing.
“I’m planning to leave Monday around noon, drive until I’m tired, sleep and drive until I get there,” Kielczynski said. “I want everything delivered by the day before Thanksgiving.”
The organizer said he selected Staten Island to benefit from the collection because of his friendship with tenor Daniel Rodriguez, known as the Singing Policeman, who has performed for benefits in La Grange.
Rodriguez and fellow tenors from New York are underwriting the cost of the truck rental, gas and tolls to facilitate the relief effort, Kielczynski said.
Another partner in the effort is the Sign of the Cross Church, which meets at the La Grange Community Center, 200 Washington Ave. The church is lending volunteers and its nonprofit status to the project so that cash contributions can be tax deductible.
“We’re a missionary church, and this is part of our outreach,” said church member Kevin Simon.
Supplies requested include personal toiletries, tools, kids’ and adults’ coats and non-perishable food items.
“Canned hams would be good for Thanksgiving or anything already cooked, because a lot still don’t have power,” Kielczynski said. “Dog and cat food and toys for the kids are needed. Everything is gone for those families.”
Kielczynski said he will purchase additional supplies from cash donations. Checks can be written to the Sign of the Cross Church and dropped off at the truck, where employees from Horton’s and Q BBQ will help load items. Or donations may be mailed to Kielczynski at 1925 W. 55th St., La Grange IL 60525.
“I just want to make a nice Thanksgiving for them,” he said.