One day last month, Dean "Dino" Geller was lying in bed in Manhattan Beach waiting for the New York Giants game to come on.

"The waves were crashing, the sun was shining, and I look on the Internet, and my hometown's falling apart. It was just complete chaos," he said.

Superstorm Sandy had hit the boroughs of New York City where Geller had grown up, washing away boardwalks and homes and taking more than 100 lives.

Geller, 42, immediately brainstormed what he could do to help. While living in Chicago when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, he had promised himself he would never again sit back and not do something when disaster struck his hometown.

Within hours, he came up with "Fill the Truck."

"I thought, 'I would like to just drive a truck full of stuff into New York City, into the Bronx, into Queens, wherever the trouble is," he said.

Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Geller will be accepting donations in a 26-foot rented Penske truck that will be parked across from the Joslyn Community Center at 1601 N. Valley Drive in Manhattan Beach. On Monday, he will embark on his cross-country journey to take the truck full of supplies to New York.

Geller, a bartender at Fonz's restaurant downtown, said although he's had a few setbacks since he came up with the idea, he has been overwhelmed by the support he's received from the Manhattan Beach community - the police lieutenant who found the spot for him to park the truck, the old friends he bumps into who have handed over $1,000 checks on the spot.


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He said many people living in Manhattan Beach are like him, from New York City or the suburbs.

"There's a crazy distant guilt that drives at your soul," he said.

Because Superstorm Sandy coverage is no longer front-page news, many don't realize there are triage tents still set up in Queens, or residents battling mold, bacteria and toxicity complications, Geller said.

Geller has started a Facebook page for the event where he updates the ever-changing needs of the Sandy victims. Currently, they do not need more clothes, he said, but do need blankets, batteries, cleaning supplies, shovels, boots, toiletries, buckets, baby food and more.

"I know it's just one truck, but I'm one guy who's trying to do (what I can)," he said.

Find out more

For more information on the event and what supplies are currently needed, search `Fill The Truck!' on Facebook to find the event's page, call Geller at 310-847-9383 or email fillthetruck@hotmail.com.
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