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The ideological polarization that is often felt during a presidential election year can make one wonder if Americans can agree about anything! But…there is one thing upon which we, who live on the East Coast can agree: It has been a rough couple of weeks! We watched with heavy hearts, horrified to see communities ravaged and destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Yet, even before the winds stopped blowing, before the skies stopped raining, and before the sun began to rise that next morning, we were hearing about acts of heroism. There were cab drivers who ferried people for free, people who made the trip across the country to help, the NYU nurses who rescued 20 neonatal babies after the hospital generators failed, and countless selfless acts in between – all of which illustrate what is right about America.

Actor and film producer Christopher Reeve once said, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” We certainly saw proof of ordinary individuals who showed extraordinary strength over these last two weeks. Not all acts of heroism and self-sacrifice have to be as grand as the ultimate sacrifice of Officer Artur Kasprzak, who died after he rescued 6 people in Staten Island. Whether it is our time or our skills or our monetary contributions, we all can contribute in some way to help with the recovery effort. Every act of self-sacrifice, no matter how small, is heroic to someone in need.

Here are some ways (both big and small) that we can all help the victims of Hurricane Sandy:

  1. The American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund
  2. The American Red Cross Blood Donations
  3. Many local churches, mosques, and synagogues are collecting donations
  4. The Humane Society Emergency Donations
  5. Habitat for Humanity
  6. Salvation Army
  7. Pennsylvania Volunteers Organizations Active In Disasters
  8. Serve.gov
  9. Volunteer Match can match your talent with the organization that would benefit from that talent.

So, for awhile, we all put aside our differences and, like the mythical bird, the phoenix, America once again finds itself rising from the ashes with quiet determination and acts of heroism…because, when all is said and done, that’s what makes us all Americans!