By FELICIA KRIEG
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Hurricane Sandy has put the latest North Country Mission of Hope shipment of medical equipment and hospital furnishings to Nicaragua on hold.
“The country essentially shuts down” starting in mid December until around Jan. 6 for the holiday season, said mission Executive Director Sister Debbie Blow.
If the container arrives at that time, it would be detained in customs, which would garner a charge, she said. So if the shipping ports in New Jersey are not operating as usual by mid month, the massive container of donations from the former Cedar Hedge Nursing Home will be held until January.
Meanwhile, the Plattsburgh-based humanitarian-aide organization has turned its effort to help storm victims in New Jersey as well as on Long Island and Staten Island. Mission Leadership Team member James Carlin headed an effort to collect needed items in the North Country and is now in the storm-ravaged area, distributing them.
“Our primary goal is to give hope,” Blow said. “The mission doesn’t differentiate between global and local (need).”
North Country generosity, which over just a few weeks brought in the $10,000 needed for the Nicaragua shipment, quickly shifted to hurricane relief when Mission of Hope put the word out of its effort in New York and New Jersey, Blow said.
And the organization is still accepting cash donations for the purpose; donors need to make sure to specify that is where they want them to go.
“We’re already getting it (the donations) on the ground and where it needs to go,” in hurricane-impacted areas, she said.
The Beekmantown Lyon’s Club has been assisting the Mission with that relief effort, Blow said.
The next full-scale mission to Nicaragua is scheduled for February, when the organization will see firsthand how the hospital furnishings and medical equipment recently donated by Mark and Lee Anne Lawrence, the owners of the former Cedar Hedge Nursing Home in Rouses Point, will be put to use.
“What we consider used or not great here would be considered state-of-the-art there,” Blow said.
Among the donated items are 58 hospital beds with 58 bedside tray tables, between 60 and 75 chairs, two medication carts, some physical therapy equipment, a couple of exam tables, a few wheelchairs, hospital room-divider curtains, linens, bookcases, cabinets and lockers.
In all, between 200 and 300 items were donated, Blow said.
“And these are conservative estimates,” she added.
A second load, which will likely be as large as the first one, will be shipped sometime this spring after enough donations are collected to cover shipping costs.
The items will be distributed among more than a dozen health clinics and orphanages in Nicaragua, Blow said.
“Our desire is to share the wealth, so to speak,” she said, and donate to many different facilities rather than just one or two.
Blow and Mission volunteers are thankful for the outpouring of support for both victims of Hurricane Sandy and the needy in Nicaragua.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in Mission of Hope, it’s that the North Country people know how to pay it forward.”
Learn more about Mission of Hope at ncmissionofhope.org or call Blow at 570-5443.