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Organizations Accept Donations for Residents Displaced by East Harlem Explosion

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TWC News: Organizations Accept Donations for Residents Displaced by East Harlem Explosion
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Many of residents displaced by Wednesday's explosion are in need of life's essentials, so several neighborhood organizations are accepting donations. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.

The blast leveled two buildings and destroyed many more lives, and now, the relief effort for the victims of Wednesday's explosion is well underway.  

"It's very important that we all come together in situations like this and we do what we can," said resident Elisabetta Urioni.

"East Harlem already is a very tight-knit neighborhood, and something like this would even bring us together even more," said Aurora Anaya-Certa, the owner of La Casa Azul Bookstore.

Any day of the week, you'll find students, educators and artists at La Casa Azul Bookstore on 103rd Street near Lexington Avenue. Now, the community space has transformed into a drop-off center for donations. 

"Toiletries, things like toothpaste, shampoo, feminine products," said Silvia Galis-Menendez, an employee at La Casa Azul Bookstore. "We want people to bring toys, school supplies for kids, crayons."

The owner told NY1 that she used social media to kickstart the effort.  

"It's been 24 hours since we launched the campaign, and it's been wonderful," Anaya-Certa said. "Within three hours of us opening up the store this afternoon, we filled over 15 bags of food and clothing."

All of the goods will be delivered to Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez's office and distributed to families in need.

Also chipping in to help is the East Harlem Merchant's Association, located at 108th Street near Second Avenue. 

"Right now, the main goal is to collect as many goods, clothing goods, toys for the kids, non-perishables to be able to bring it to them directly," said Raphael Benavides, president of the East Harlem Merchant's Association.

Benavides said that after the destruction, merchants and residents in East Harlem and beyond reached out to help. 

"They started asking what is the best way to coordinate the efforts," he said. "One thing lead to another, and we got together, and this is the result of that."

So far, so good. Benavides said that they'll be collecting daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Organizers hope that even more supplies will pour in now that the word is getting out.  
La Casa Azul Bookstore is accepting donations until Sunday night.

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