Hurricane Sandy donations on their way

An 11-day effort to collect clothes and other supplies for victims of Hurricane Sandy has packed a local surfwear company's warehouse and the donated goods are now on their way to the East Coast in a U-Haul truck.

"We nearly filled the entire warehouse," said Costa Mesa Buccaneer Board Riders Chief Operating Officer Matt Stone. "It's hard to tell how much we collected. We had bags and boxes stacked 6-feet high. We could barely even walk.

"I just want to say thank you to the Orange County community for being so selfless. It almost brought a tear to my eye to know there were so many people who were so moved."

All the items were collected from Nov. 7 to Sunday and then donated to Project Save Our Surf, a Santa Barbara-based environmental nonprofit dedicated to preserving oceans and marine life.

OluKai, an environmentally conscious footwear manufacturer in Irvine, also contributed to the effort by donating 700 pairs of closed-toe shoes valued at $85,000. In all, the company will have donated about $100,000 worth of goods to the effort, as it also served as a collection zone for the campaign, said Marketing Director Kerry Konrady.

"OluKai was founded on the Aloha spirit and one of the principles of that is taking care of your community and giving back, that's something our company has always been built upon," Konrady said.

Karon Pardue, vice president of Project Save Our Surf, estimated $50,000 worth of donated items were collected by the two Orange County drop-off locations. She estimated that they collected $300,000 worth of goods, including monetary donations, clothes and other items, during the campaign.

"Everyone has been amazing, everywhere we go," Pardue said. "Everyone in California really helped out, especially in Orange County. The [Buccaneer Board Riders] warehouse was sky-high. It filled probably half of the truck."

There wasn't enough room to fit OluKai's donation in the U-Haul so the company is shipping it up to Project Save Our Surf in one of its freight trucks.

Pardue and Project Save Our Surf Ambassador Mary Osborne collected Buccaneer Board Riders' donations on Monday before beginning the long drive to New York, where they'll distribute the items and stay to partner with the New York Surfrider Foundation, another environmental nonprofit, to assist with the rebuilding process.

There have been a few bumps in the road, as the U-Haul blew out a tire in Arizona and Osborne, who just returned from El Salvador, had to go to the hospital Tuesday with a 103-degree fever. After some rest and treatment, Osborne and Pardue hit the road again Wednesday.

"We think she might have picked something up in El Salvador," Pardue said. "They gave her some antibiotics and steroids, and she is feeling better today."

With the setbacks, Pardue projects they'll arrive in New York on Thursday night.

"We don't know how long we are going to be there, we are just going to be ready to work," Pardue said.

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