For a quarter century, her family has sold toys and stationery at their mom and pop on the Upper West Side.
However, they keep their merchandise at home on Staten Island's Midland Beach, which was decimated by more than 15 feet of water when sandy raged ashore.
"You woke up in the morning and you looked outside the window and just saw the disaster the storm had done to your whole neighborhood. It's just amazing," Donna said.
Sandy destroyed her house and three warehouses, filled with 500-thousand dollars worth of mostly holiday merchandise that she had yet to pay off. All she has left to sell is what's currently on the shelf.
"Some days are easier than others," she said. "We're taking each day at a time."
But now she's getting help from her most loyal customers, who've launched a buy local campaign in the neighborhood. It's a plea for help to get Donna get back on her feet.
The neighborhood has rushed to her side, some donating checks and other vowing to do all their holiday shopping here. Mindy miller's husband volunteered to help clean Donna's house.
"These stores are so important at just keeping our community pulled together and what's nice is she's now feeling how much they're a part of it here," Mindy Miller said.
"Most people think you should stay home and just weather the storm. I just want to go hang out on the Upper West Side. You feel the love up here. You feel the love," Donna said.
Donna says she's simply overwhelmed by the acts of kindness of her neighbors who are rallying around the store, a small mom and pop that's served its community for 26 years. Now the community is paying back the favor.
Impacted residents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut can apply for federal assistance. Affected residents must register with FEMA by phone or online to access that aid. To register by phone, residents can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The TTY line for people with speech or hearing disabilities is 1-800-462-7585. The line is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven days per week. To register online, applications may be completed at DisasterAssistance.gov.
If residents have disaster assistance questions, they may call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
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