'Sarasota Cares' to help Sandy victims

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SARASOTA--Officials are now putting the total cost of damages from Superstorm Sandy at around $50 billion. That makes it the second most damaging storm ever, right behind Hurricane Katrina.

Clearly help is still needed, but some are fearing that many Americans are already putting Sandy out of their minds; but one Suncoast woman is hoping to change that.

"I couldn't stand it, it was like a flashback from Louisiana and how long it took to get things to the people who need it," said Bonnie Provo, who remembers watching TV coverage of Superstorm Sandy. What she saw made her want to act.

"So I thought I have to do something about this," said Provo,"I saw one woman on TV who said 'This is all I have, and I have one other outfit,' period, like that's all she owned."

Since Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast, Provo has been organizing Sarasota Cares, a campaign using local businesses as drop-off points for those looking to donate goods to Sandy's victims.

"I started running around town dropping off boxes, and collecting anything I can to send them," said Provo.

But for a storm that hit two weeks ago, some may wonder whether there's anything left to be done. Provo says without a doubt, absolutely.

"I actually had one person say to me, 'you know its too late, why are you doing it now?' Well, its not too late, there are still thousands without electricity and they still don't have clothes, they still don't have anything," said Provo.

Blankets, clothes, canned goods, water; anything you can give, Sarasota Cares will take. But there are items that they do not want.

"We're not taking dishes or glasses unless they're plastic," said Provo, "we don't need anything to decorate their homes because a lot of them don't have homes."

Locations where you can drop items off for donation include:

--Interior Consignment at 4441 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota

--Precision Cycles at 1105 North Washington Blvd. in Sarasota

--Sarasota Ford at 707 South Washington Blvd. in Sarasota

--Hide-Away Storage at 8901 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota

If you are a business and would like to offer your location as a drop-off point for donations, you can call Bonnie Provo at 941-735-5293.