Biology student spearheads relief for Hurricane Sandy

Seaside, NJ – The Casino Pier roller coaster sits in the ocean after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Photo via L.A. Times

While his New Jersey family and friends were grappling with cold temperatures and no power, one student at the University of Central Florida led a campus-wide relief effort to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Tyler M. Neher, a junior studying Biology, is a native of coastal New Jersey. He’s among the more than 500 UCF students who hail from that state and New York.

After the hurricane, he coordinated a supplies drive that collected nonperishable food and clothing to be sent up north. More than 1,700 essential items were collected and delivered to the Manasquan, N.J., Office of Emergency Management on Saturday, Nov. 24.

“I grew up on the beaches of New Jersey, and it’s always been home to me,” said Neher. “A friend and I were going to go up there and try to help, but my family said they didn’t need more people shoveling sand. So we did what they said was most needed.”

Through a partnership with Wawa, the convenience retail store chain that calls the Northeast home, the items were delivered Saturday to the emergency management drop-off point at the First Presbyterian Church of Manasquan.

Once the UCF shipment was received, volunteers began distributing the items to food banks, churches and firehouses in the affected areas of Monmouth County. The 1,726 items included Wawa snacks as well as the UCF student donations of clothing, hygiene products, canned goods and nonperishable food.

Wawa’s truck, powered by its partner McLane, made the delivery on a return route from Orlando to New Jersey. Wawa expanded to the Orlando area earlier this year.

“When we got the call from UCF, we knew we wanted to ‘fly back home’ on the wings of teamwork to our home state!” said Wawa area manager Charlene Marko-Heim. “Our hearts go out to our northern home market and we wanted to do what we could to aid the students in their wonderful outreach effort for the recovery.”

To learn more about Neher’s Sandy Relief effort, visit the drive’s Facebook page.

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