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Bedford Carabba's restaurant accepting goods for hurricane victims

BEDFORD - Carabba's Italian Grill is accepting donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, calling for second-hand blankets and winter attire. Customers who bring donations get a free appetizer.

Danny Somaru owns the Bedford Carabba's location, one of 230 nationwide. Originally from the Florida Gulf Coast, he's all-too familiar with the devastation hurricanes can cause.

"Just watching the news, reading the papers, you see the destruction going on from Sandy," he said. "Being from Florida I've been through hurricanes my whole life, and I can see what disasters happen from that."

Somaru said when Hurricane Charlie hit in 2004, the Carabba's where he was working had to shut down for a week and a half. But it continued providing food, only outside the restaurant, to people who didn't have a home.

"With a business person stepping up . it's about being a good neighbor and being a good community member, just to get your name out there to help each other out," he said.

Somaru said that to develop a reputation as a community locale, it's important to contribute in times of need. When Perry Hill Farm burned down in Bedford in September, Carabba's raised $4,000 for the cause.

The idea to collect items for Sandy survivors was Somaru's - and now he's trying to get the eight nearby Carabba's sites to jump on board. Nearby Massachusetts locations include Tyngsboro and Peabody.

Organizers will identify a relief organization working in the impacted area to distribute the items. The restaurant is reaching out to distributors to recruit a truck for the effort.

Donations should consist of used goods, including blankets, towels, winter jackets, sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves and other items. Cash donations are not being accepted, Somaru said, and should be sent to the Red Cross.

Items can be dropped off at Carabba's during store hours, Monday to Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. The drive will end on Nov. 16.

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