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Noah Hughes, 12, overlooking clean-up efforts at Central Park which was closed due to Hurricane Sandy. 

Reaching out to Sandy's victims

BEDFORD - Hundreds of miles away from the major destruction in New York City and along the New Jersey shoreline, a local nonprofit organization is spearheading a nationwide humanitarian effort to collect as many hygiene kits as possible to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

"I think people are getting desperate," said Angela Hughes of Color My World Foundation of Bedford.

Hughes is returning from New York City today, where she spent the past two days witnessing the heartache that mother nature has bestowed on the lively urban community.

Hughes joined her husband on a business trip and said she is in awe of the crippling impact that Hurricane Sandy has had on New York, especially lower Manhattan.

On Thursday, officials enforced a ban on driving into Manhattan without at least three people in each vehicle, according to Hughes, who said her 12-year-old son joined them on the trip to help meet the mandatory quota.

"We had no problem getting into the city, as there is not a lot of traffic here. There are a lot of people walking," she said by telephone, explaining the mayor is encouraging motorists to assist those individuals who are walking.

While she was staying in midtown Manhattan, as opposed to lower Manhattan which has seen the brunt of the storm, Hughes said it is still an unusual site.

"Twenty blocks down from here, people are desperately trying to get water and gas. It is like there are two different New Yorks - one side that has power and the other side that is in the dark," said Hughes. "Once you get to 39th Street, it goes black."

While some of the subway system is operating, Hughes said Central Park is closed and shelters are being organized every few blocks.

"More things are moving today, and we are mostly seeing a lot of international people, and a ton of marathoners," she said Friday, adding that in the past 24 hours there have been numerous stations set up with batteries and water.

Gasoline has obviously been the biggest obstacle for New York City residents, according to Hughes, who said people are getting frustrated and desperate.

Many people living in lower Manhattan and certain areas of New Jersey are in need of basic supplies, including toothbrushes, soap and towels, as they have been displaced or lost their homes, said Hughes.

Color My World, a non-profit youth foundation in Bedford, is encouraging New Hampshire residents - and others throughout the country - to donate hygiene kits to families affected by Hurricane Sandy.

While its initial goal was to collect 500 kits, Hughes said she would like to top 1,000.

"Each kit helps a family of four, so that would be like helping 4,000 people who need our assistance," she explained.

Hughes' son, Noah, is taking the lead in this worthwhile project, and is optimistic that Granite State citizens will take the time out of their busy lives to think about the survivors of this tragedy not too far from home.

"It is just really amazing what Sandy has done. It is just so sad," said Noah, a sixth-grader who is home-schooled.

Watching the famous crane dangle from high atop a Manhattan construction site - a scene that has received a lot of publicity since the storm hit - Noah said it is hard to imagine how workers will be able to remove the crane, or even how the massive city will recover.

But New Yorkers are strong, and they will survive, he said, especially with a little help from their neighbors to the north.

Color My World is accepting part or complete hygiene kits consisting of: four toothbrushes, two bars of soap, two hand towels, one tube of toothpaste and two combs packed in a one-gallon zip-lock bag.

Drop off locations include the Bedford Public Library, the YMCA in Goffstown, the YMCA in Manchester, Trinity High School, Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains in Bedford and Bedford Positively at the Bullock Agency, 11 Meetinghouse Road.

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