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Walgreens employee organizes fundraiser for flood victims

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POTSDAM - An employee with the Potsdam Walgreens store hopes to stuff a truck with items that can be donated to flood victims in Oneida, Herkimer and Montgomery counties.

Leon Hollinger is coordinating with the American Red Cross office in Potsdam to host a “Stuff the Truck event from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Potsdam Walgreens.

He’ll also accept donations from now through the day of the event at the store.

“Our goal is to stuff a truck full of cleaning supplies, bottled water, clothing, household items and children activities. I will be coordinating with several areas of the state and the American Red Cross distribution centers in the disaster area,” he said.

Mr. Hollinger said, although there’s no family or personal connection, he thought it was an opportunity to help others who had been impacted by heavy rains in Oneida, Herkimer and Montgomery counties.

“A co-worker sent me a link from the American Red Cross when they were reaching out to St. Lawrence County for help. It was just an opportunity help a community and areas in need,” he said.

“I’m hoping I’ll be able to play a little part in it to help them out. After seeing the storm we had here (Wednesday) night, I can’t imagine getting hit on a regular basis. They’ve had some breaks, but I understand they’re still expecting more rains down there,” Mr. Hollinger said.

“I’m going to try to help with what the Red Cross is doing as well. Every time there’s a disaster in a community, they’re there,” he said.

“I think about adults and how they would handle things and I think about the children. I’d like to collect some toys and bring them down and put a smile on a kid’s face. I’m just trying to make a difference,” he said.

Anyone who wants to donate ahead of time can contact him at the Potsdam Walgreens or via a Facebook page he has set up at www.facebook.com/events/393920297385690/.

“They can drop off any donations at the Potsdam Walgreens,” he said. “Look around your house or when you are out shopping and consider the families in those areas and what they have lost.”

Mr. Hollinger said he had been coordinating the effort with Olga Grant and her assistants with the American Red Cross in Potsdam, as well as others from out of the area.

“There has been a lot of phone calls, a lot of conversations. But it’s all well worth it being able to put a smile on somebody’s face, either directly or indirectly,” he said.

He plans to coordinate with the American Red Cross and other organizations in those areas after the fundraising is over.

“When I spoke to the American Red Cross up here, they said maybe the Salvation Army in the other areas might need some help,” he said.

Mr. Hollinger said he also plans to take a trip to the affected areas.

“A friend of mine is driving a truck. I want to be there to see what it entails. Something of this magnitude is new for me. It’s also an experience I’m going to cherish,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Mr. Hollinger has organized a fundraiser since he was transferred to the Potsdam Walgreens in September, but others have been more localized, he said.

“Since I was transferred to the Potsdam Walgreens in September, a few doors have opened up for me to explore other opportunities and explore organizations,” he said.

With the backing of his store, he started working with other organizations in January.

“The store and the district have been helpful. They allow me to become more involved,” Mr. Hollinger said.

Among the organizations he has assisted are the Potsdam Neighborhood Center and Rose Hill in Massena.

“It’s all been on a local level,” he said.

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