By Victoria Bekiempis, Joe Parziale
NEW YORK — Hundreds of volunteers headed to the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy on Saturday morning, where they passed out food and water and cleaned up debris.
After a meet-and-greet with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one mass mobilization, organized by NYC Service and New York Cares, departed from City Hall just before 11 a.m.
"A lot of people have been donating money and donating blood and donating goods," said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the mayor. "This is just another opportunity for folks to go back out to these areas."
Buses brought volunteers to Staten Island, Coney Island, and the Rockaways, where the projects started on site at 11:30 a.m.
And in Queens, food and water handouts, clothing donations, and a kids' carnival were launched from the Beach 41st Street Community Center, 426 Beach 40th Street, in Far Rockaway.
In Brighton Beach on Saturday morning, around 30 volunteers in orange shirts scrubbed sand off the boardwalk and threw out debris.
Kristen Deyorio, a 27-year-old psychologist from Central Brooklyn, was pitching in on her time off.
She said that it's natural for people to support each other during a crisis, as they were Saturday.
"I think people have sort of a biological need to help," she said. "They see other people working to clean up the area, and I think that kind of motivates them and boosts morale."
Martin Marczika, a 34-year-old teacher, was on scene helping with relief efforts in Coney Island.
The Columbus, Ohio native said he has lived in New York for 11 years, but only got the chance to visit Coney Island for the first time in summer.
He hopes relief efforts can help restore the beloved recreation area.
"I'm glad I got the opportunity to enjoy it before the storm. I'm afraid it might not look the same for some time," he said. "But if everybody does their part, I think eventually we could get there."