Since Hurricane Sandy swept through SJ, Wayne Trojanowski has barely slept.

He’s not losing sleep because he’s worried about his family or home in Mount Holly – both faired better than most during the storm. It’s people like little Daniel Morin – a 2-year-old who requires a feeding pump and round-the-clock oxygen because of a heart defect – that have been keeping him up at night.

Trojanowski has been burning the candle at both ends since he came up with the idea to deliver donated generators to those in need following the widespread power outages caused by the storm. “The other day, I delivered a generator to a family with two little kids at 11:30 at night. Their house was like an ice box when we got there – you could actually see your breath while inside. We were able to hook up the generator and get their furnace going, so they could actually sleep comfortably for the first time in a few days,” he says.

The night after that, Trojanowski drove to Morin’s house in Toms River to deliver another generator, along with space heaters and gas, to help power his life-saving medical equipment. “Daniel’s family had been using a borrowed generator to keep his equipment going, but it died and they couldn’t afford to buy one,” says Trojanowski. “When we showed up with a replacement generator, Daniel’s mom just started crying.”

And two days before helping the Morin family, Trojanowski worked eight hours at his job as assistant manager of John Deere Landscapes in Cherry Hill, yet still managed to log 165 miles across SJ to deliver five generators, three space heaters and other supplies to 14 children, four elderly people and 10 adults who had been without power for days.

“I got home at 1:30 am and had to get up at 5 to go to work. But one of those families we helped that night finally had power to run a heart pump for their little girl, and another family was able to use the respirator for their 10-month-old twins, so I’m definitely not complaining,” says Trojanowski. “I’ve been hugged by more strangers in the past few weeks than I have my entire life. That’s made it all well worth it.”

An elderly U.S. Army veteran had electricity and heat after the storm thanks to a generator delivered by Wayne Trojanowski

An elderly U.S. Army veteran had electricity and heat after the storm thanks to a generator delivered by Wayne Trojanowski

Since the storm, Trojanowski, with the help of a few friends, has dropped off generators to houses left cold and dark by Hurricane Sandy as close as Browns Mills and Deptford to as far away as Red Bank, Seaside Park, Brick and Manasquan.

“As the power comes on in one home, we go pick up the generator and drop it off to another family that’s still without power. There are so many people who were hard hit by the storm. One woman we were able to help has cystic fibrosis and needed electricity in order to do her lung treatment. Another was an elderly U.S. Army veteran who is a double amputee. We’ve been trying to get to everyone we can,” he says.

Trojanowski’s efforts to help those without electricity and heat started out small. “I was one of the few people in my neighborhood who didn’t lose power after the hurricane. Right after the storm, I ran some extension cords to my neighbor’s house so they could keep their refrigerator on. After that, I made a cell phone charging station by setting up a table at the end of my driveway and running another extension cord to it. I figured it was the least I could do.”

After seeing how much these small gestures helped those around him, Trojanowski had the itch to help more people affected by the massive storm. He created a Facebook page, Generators for Sandy, as a way to connect those who had generators and no longer needed them to those who were still without power.

Within 24 hours, the messages and wall postings started pouring in. “We’ve heard from people who want to donate their generators, and I’ve heard from others who want to help me pick up and deliver those generators. Others want to donate heaters, gas cans, extension cords and gift cards. The generosity just keeps coming in,” says Trojanowski.

In fact, the traffic on the Facebook page became so overwhelming that Trojanowski enlisted the help of a long-time friend to sort through the messages and postings. “He’s been able to keep track of who needs generators and who doesn’t, which means I’ve been able to focus on dropping them off and picking them up. We also change the oil and gas them up between each delivery. We’re doing everything after our day jobs, so it’s been non-stop,” says Trojanowski.

However, he doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. “Now that people at the Shore have been allowed back to their homes, we’re planning on heading there to deliver generators to help power the clean-up efforts in those towns. There’s a lot of work to be done there, and as long as there’s still a need, we’ll still be helping.”

December 2012
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