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Hundreds of people wait in line for a food distribution on Friday in Coney Island, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

A local nonprofit organization plans to send volunteers and raise money to assist victims of superstorm Sandy, which ravaged much of the Northeast this week with widespread flooding, power failures and wind and fire damage.

Global Uplift, a Salinas-based group whose past disaster-relief efforts have included Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, has immediate plans to send two Monterey County volunteers, Jeff Taylor and Bill Warne, to New Jersey to assess the needs of disaster victims and report back to the organization.

The group also is conducting fundraising efforts and recruiting more volunteers.

"We don't simply collect money to give to larger organizations. We send volunteers to determine what the most crucial needs are, and where those things are needed most," said Peter Shah, president of the organization. "We're a hands-on charity, and we try to reach as many people as we can that way."

Global Uplift was formed in September 2000 with a mission to arrange and provide medical care and facilities for underprivileged people in the U.S. and the world; to provide housing and food for the homeless and poor; and to provide educational scholarships to the underprivileged.

Volunteers used donated funds in 2005 to purchase baby strollers for victims of Hurricane Katrina after it was determined that parents were having difficulty transporting their youngest children to relief camps, or to stores to buy food and supplies.


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Shah said the organization has set an initial fundraising goal of $25,000, much of which will be raised through the sale of "Disaster Relief" wristbands through local banks, including Pacific Valley Bank, Rabobank, Santa Cruz County Bank and Pinnacle Bank. The suggested minimum donation for the wristbands is $2.

"When the tsunami hit Japan, we sold wristbands for $1 and raised all of the money we needed. Monterey County residents are the most generous people I've ever seen in my life," Shah said. "One local resident donated $10 from her paycheck every month, and today there is a home that was built in her name in India. Global Uplift is truly a people's organization."

Donors can send a check for any amount to Global Uplift, 975 W. Alisal St., Suite D, Salinas, CA 93901. Specify "Disaster Relief for Superstorm Sandy" in the memo line.

"I am an immigrant from India who came to this country with $9 in my pocket, and, to me, this is what the American story is all about," Shah said. "This is the land of dreams and opportunity. I feel blessed to be in this country and I want to give back as much as I can."

To volunteer, call 888-625-9322, email shah@stevensloanshah.com or see www.globaluplift.com.

Dennis Taylor can be reached at 646-4344 or dtaylor@montereyherald.com.