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Sandown brothers pitch in with Sandy relief efforts

By Jason Schreiber
Union Leader Correspondent

November 16. 2012 8:49PM

Aiden and Alexander Garone of Sandown present their $480 donation earned through yard work to Exeter firefighter Patrick Robicheau. The money was then delivered to Friends of Firefighters Inc. in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

EX-SANDY28 (Jason Schreiber pic): Exeter firefighters talk with volunteers from the Friends of Firefighters outside the old Brooklyn firehouse Wednesday morning. The firehouse, which now houses the Friends of Firefighters, was flooded during Hurricane Sandy. Jason Schreiber
SANDOWN - Aiden Garone, 9, and his brother, Alexander, 6, were excited when they awoke to the first snow fall of the season last week.

But then the brothers from Sandown got to talking with their mother about how bad it must have been for the people of New York and New Jersey who are still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The boys said they wanted to do something to help the victims, and after throwing some ideas around, they decided to take on yard work projects in exchange for donations.

The boys stopped by four homes on Monday, taking on jobs ranging from garden cleanouts to picking up sticks and raking leaves.

They originally raised $240, but when their grandmother from Rochester, N.Y., heard about their effort she decided to match the amount.

When the Garones learned that Exeter firefighters were heading down to help New York City firefighters whose homes were flooded by Sandy, the boys asked them to take the money and hand deliver the $480 donation to the Friends of Firefighters Inc., an organization in Brooklyn that assists active and retired FDNY firefighters and operates out of an old Brooklyn firehouse that flooded during the hurricane.

It was the perfect charity since their dad, Mike Garone, is a firefighter in Derry.

The boys rushed their donations over to the Exeter Fire Department Monday afternoon - just hours before six firefighters headed to New York.

Aiden said he wanted to help the firefighters "because they should have a home."

Alexander shared his concern.

"I wanted to help people and firefighters lost their homes. Since my Dad's a firefighter I wanted to transfer it to them," he said.

"They came up with this idea and carried it out in a week and I have never been so proud," said their mother, Rebecca.

Exeter Firefighter Patrick Robicheau gave the cash donation to the Friends of Firefighters Wednesday morning.

Tony Catapano, a retired FDNY firefighter who served for 42 years, said he and others appreciated the donation and the efforts the boys made to help firefighters, many of whom were affected by Sandy.

"To spend their time doing something like that is just great," he said.

Catapano, who now volunteers with Friends of Firefighters, said the donation will be put to good use.

The firehouse used by the organization was flooded by 4 feet of water during Sandy. The kitchen was ruined, including the stove, refrigerator and other appliances and utensils, but volunteers were able to get the mess cleaned up quickly so the building could accommodate firefighters from around the country who have come to New York to volunteer to help.

The firehouse remained without power this week, heated only by a pellet stove donated and installed on Tuesday. The electrical system and boiler was wiped out in the flood as well. The story was the same at another Brooklyn fire station that was used by firefighters until the flood. It can't be used until the damage is fixed.

The Friends of Firefighters also got a hand from Exeter firefighters who not only offered manual labor but donated water and other supplies to be given to families of firefighters.

With so many firefighters now homeless and looking for apartments after their homes burned or flooded, Catapano said the help from New Hampshire and elsewhere was needed.

"We don't get storms like this. We get snowstorms and rainstorms, and with the rain there's usually sewer backups. This was overwhelming. This was so widespread," he said.

Catapano said he's been impressed by the outpouring of support the Friends of Firefighters have received from the firefighting community.

"Some of these brothers and sisters, they have families too, and some of them are coming here even though they need work on their house. It evolves into, 'You do it for me and I'm there for you,'" he said. "We try to help each other out as much as we can."

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