Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Stylist Mary Alice Stephenson has been running the fashion-based non-profit Glam4Good for twenty years now, but she never expected to find herself involved in on-the-ground disaster relief. Since Hurricane Sandy hit last week, though, Stephenson has been working the phones and getting her contacts in the fashion industry to donate goods like toiletries and warm clothing to displaced residents of the Rockaways and Breezy Point.
So far, Stephenson's been able to round up hats from corporate partner C. Wonder, shampoo and soap from L'Oreal, boots and scarves from Seventeen's fashion closet, and coats and work-wear from brands like Calvin Klein, DKNY, and Dior. She'll be using some of the latter merchandise to set up a "shop" where residents of the Rockaways can pick up free professional clothes sometime before Christmas, but right now she's more focused on immediate health and hygiene concerns.
"There's no heat or electricity; stores are closed," she told us when we talked to her on Tuesday. "Yesterday we were giving out tampons, Depends for the older people, Pedialyte for babies. This isn't normally what we do—it's not high fashion—but we are able to help and so we do."
Stephenson learned about the devastation in the Rockaways and Breezy Point the morning after the storm from her friend Eugene Brennan, a firefighter who works in the region. She posted on Facebook about how Glam4Good was collecting supplies, and Page Six picked up the story—twice. (That's one of the nice things about being a fashion celebrity.) Soon, offers of help were pouring in.
"A lot of PR people, even though their brands were shut down, they wanted to help and they didn't know how," she says. "Since I was working in the Rockaways, I knew what was needed, so I could direct them via social media. Sunday there was so much back-and-forth, everyone asking what they could do. We literally had three cars full of essentials."
To those who want to get involved, Stephenson recommends checking out the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, which has turned into an impromptu storm crisis center. The United Way is directing volunteers as well, and you can always follow Glam4Good on Facebook and Twitter for more ways to help. Plus, "I highly recommend donating to the Red Cross," she says. "I'm a small organization. I just did what anyone would do to help my friends."
· How Rockaway Beach Surf Club Became a Relief Center [Treehugger]
· Glam4Good [Facebook]
· @Glam4Good [Twitter]