UnitedHealthcare gave the RAINE Foundation a $25,000 grant on Tuesday to help the Hazlet-based volunteer organization continue their relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Mike Fabozzi, RAINE Foundation President, expressed his appreciation for the donation, noting that the foundation plans to focus on helping school communities that were devastated by the storm.
"We've already done a lot with Union Beach Memorial School," he said.
Fabozzi explained that RAINE set up a school for the approximately 700 displaced students twice, first at St. Catherine's and then at Holy Family. The foundation also donated a number of items to the school, including 45 computers, printers, fax machines and school supplies.
The foundation, however, has done much more than support Union Beach students in the aftermath of Sandy.
The day after Sandy struck, they set up a relief center at the Cullen Center. Within days, the operation was moved to Hazlet's Beers Street School and worked by industrial generator to better serve the community. While the relief center was open, nearly 20,000 meals were served and truckloads of donations were received, sorted and handed out.
Once the overwhelming need for warm meals subsided, RAINE Foundation volunteers took to demolishing storm-damaged homes in Keyport, Union Beach, Keansburg, Sea Bright and even Staten Island.
A number of UHC employees live in the Bayshore area, explained CEO Michael McGuire, and although some of them had lost their own homes and many of them were without electricity, they reached out to RAINE to find out how they could help.
"RAINE initially asked for volunteers to clean up flooded homes in the Union Beach area so we organized employee groups who would volunteer in crews," said McGuire.
"Crews of UnitedHealthcare volunteers assisted in clearing out and gutting homes. This included the removal of furniture, cabinets, fixtures, sheet rock, insulation and flooring," he continued, noting that the company's crews have completed about 350 volunteer hours.
Now that the demolition jobs are slowing and RAINE successfully provided Christmas gifts to about 600 families in need this holiday season, Fabozzi said the foundation is looking forward to continuing to help those impacted by Sandy with a focus on local schools.
McGuire emphasized that UHC was happy to help relief organizations entrenched in local communities.
"UnitedHealthcare's mission is to help people live healthier lives and at no time is this more important than in a time of crisis," he said. "In addition to our annual $500,000 donation to the Red Cross, UnitedHealthcare made a $1million donation directly to the Hurricane Sandy Relief fund in New York and New Jersey with 60% of the funds going to NY and 40% to New Jersey. In New Jersey, we chose to give $300,000 to First Lady Christie's Fund and the remaining $100,000 to various local organizations that we were already working with across the state."