Whisky Advocate

Please help if you can. Any way you can.

November 4th, 2012

In the six years that I’ve been blogging, all my posts have had something to do with whisky. Just this one time, I’m going to make an exception. If you’re only interested in me talking about whisky, you can stop reading now and go on with your life. But this will certainly be my most important post since I’ve been blogging.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, the Jersey Shore has been a large part of my life. My parents took us to the beach during the summertime every year when I was a kid. I married a Jersey girl and her parents did the same for her. When my wife Amy and I started our own family, we continued this tradition, taking our daughter and her friends to the beach with us.

In 2006, we bought our first place at the beach and became good friends with our beach community. In many ways, they are like family to us. Last year, Amy and I took a big plunge. We sold our first house and purchased our dream home. The first picture you see here is what the street that our house is on looks like. As you can see, several of the houses are off their foundations and are now on the paved street which is covered in several feet of sand. (The other pictures here are also of our neighborhood communities. There were picked randomly. There are thousands of them just like this.)

Hundreds of houses in our communities were burned to a crisp or swallowed up by the ocean. Most of the ones still remaining are badly damaged. In fact, the island was actually cut in half. (See the picture to the lower left.) If you’ve been watching the news or reading the papers this past week, you will have seen numerous photos and videos of this barrier island that so many of us call home.

I’m not going to show you a picture of my house, because I don’t want this post to be about me and our family tribulations. Our loss is certainly real: emotionally, financially, etc., but this is our vacation home, not our primary residence. We are alive. We have a place to live, and we both have a jobs. We will get through this.

But lives have been lost. There are people who are homeless, with nothing except the clothes on their back, needing shelter. Others are still living in their homes, with no heat, power, water, food, or anywhere else to go. The sewage plants have been flooded and raw sewage is reversing course and flooding their houses. Empty houses are being looted. What’s more, the next couple nights are going to get below freezing, and we have a nasty Nor’easter coming mid-week which could be even more devastating. And this is not just a New Jersey issue. It’s all along the east coast.

This problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Most of the houses are heated by gas, and the gas lines on the barrier island have been compromised. All new lines have to be installed, which could take 6-9 months or more. People are going to be homeless for a long time. The islands are basically under Martial Law and we still have not even been able to access the our homes to assess damage and grab a few belongings.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, before you get on with your lives this week with your jobs, voting, and all the other things you have to do, please consider offering help of some sort if you can. It doesn’t matter how small it is. Whether its a financial donation, food, clothing, offering shelter, volunteering your services, it will all be gratefully accepted.

I’ve includee a link right here, listing all the charities relating to Hurricane Sandy damage relief.

If you have nothing to offer right now, which is understandable, because we have our own problems to deal with, I ask that you help to spread the word. Let people know about this post and the charities that I linked to. This post will be going out on my Facebook page and also on Twitter. Please do what you can do to spread the word via social media. Let’s make sure everyone has a place to stay, clothing, food, and water.

My first check is going out tomorrow to someone who desperately needs it. It’s part of the money I raised from the Bonhams auction. I’m not waiting for the Bonhams check to come in.

I speak for all of the people who need your help and say “thank you” to those of you who can help.

No Responses to “Please help if you can. Any way you can.”

  1. Joe Hyman says:

    There are community organizations all over the northeast collecting food, clothing, toiletries, etc. And delivering them to the devistated areas. Anyone can find these groups in their own neighborhoods, even hundreds of miles away, and can pitch in. A lot of communities postponed trick-or-treating until this week. Perhaps, parents escorting their children can collect canned goods while the kids are getting candy… Every little bit helps.

  2. Andrew says:

    Having worked logistics for several hurricane relief efforts I can say the best thing you can donate is money. The canned foods and clothing is appreciated, however, logistically it is a nightmare to get those items sorted and distributed. By donating money, entities such as the Red Cross can purchase needed items in bulk and at much lower prices than yourself. They can then bring those items directly to the needed areas by the truckload. Your money will be put to use helping to stock mobile kitchen units, replacing lost medications and providing for the medical needs of the poor and elderly, and help in generally just giving some of these folks a place to sleep and shower.

    Later, when the initial rush of immediate need supplies are regularly reaching their target areas, will the demand for additional items such as clothing become apparent especially with the cold weather coming in. Finally, as many have lost their primary residence, there is no place to even put canned food donations. Much of what is needed now are the basics and will be so for some time to come.

    Be wary of those who call looking for donations. Especially when they “sound” like they are with a known non-profit. Many of these just collect money with little to none of it ever making it to the cause. Best to donate directly yourself to the corporate non-profit of your choice such as those John has provided a link to or even a simpler, you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

  3. Marc from Ann Arbor says:

    I second Andrew’s suggestion. Cash donations to an organization that can “multiple your dollars” and get critical assistance to those most in need fast is the most affective way to help, especially in the early phase of the recovery. As John and Joe mentioned, every donation, whatever the amount “is” significant. A good place to start maybe to forego your next spirit purchase and donate the amount to the recovery effort. If your next purchase was going to be a Pappy 20 or 23 y.o., even better. People need your help now!

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks, John and Marc. I grew up not far from you in PA, John. Many a summer of my youth was spent at the Jersey shore. A day here… a month there. I could make the drive to one of many locations from memory and my car could almost drive itself there. Now, it pains me to see the destruction on the news, I have to turn the TV off. All that comes to mind is Springsteen’s “My City of Ruins.”

  5. MrTH says:

    I’ve donated to the Red Cross an amount I’d consider the price of a splurge bottle of whisky. I hope everyone here will consider at least the same.

  6. Jason Keen says:

    I just donated as well to Rebuilding Together. I had never heard of them but what I read sounded very positive. John – always enjoy reading your blog posts, but this one was especially important. It’s hard for us in other parts of the country to truly understand how devastating the impact of this hurricane was and is. Good luck to you and your family.

  7. Judd says:

    So sorry for your loss, and that of the fine people affected by this horrible tragedy. Myself as well as the company I work for are in the midst of donating time, money, and where it helps, expertise to assist with cleanup and rebuilding. I encourage everyone to at least donate in some way of you can. Money is great, but so is time and energy! Plus… It feels amazing to do good things for people 🙂

    Best of luck rebuilding. I wish all impacted a speedy return to life as we know it.


  8. Scribe says:

    John, good luck to you, your family and other posters here from the Northeast given forecasts today — in NYC at least, where I am — of strong winds, heavy rains and possibly even snow from the latest Nor’easter. Be safe and be well…

    • John Hansell says:

      Thanks. Protective dunes gone. Not good. We still have not been able to see our home, assess damage, grab a few items, and winterize the home.Still too dangerous. Martial Law still in effect.

      My home is still standing. (At least before this Nor’easter.) We feel blessed because there a so many whose homes are gone, and it’s their primary home.

  9. Morgan Steele says:

    I am sorry for all of those affected by this tragedy. I hope my donation encourages others and provides some relief.

  10. Lawrence says:

    Hi John,

    I think many of us can help; many of us have friends who like whisky and a lot of us have some whisky at home that could go to a good cause so I challenge you to invite your whisky loving friends to a charity whisky tasting and put that whisky to work to help out. It’s amazing what a selection of half full bottles can achieve!

    Pick a date, invite your friends and ask them to make a donation directly to the Red Cross (or your charity of choice or their charity of choice) but put that whisky to work and help out.

    I’m going to start my planning now…I held a similar tasting for the Japanese Red Cross (proceeds via my local Red Cross) and we raised some money….

    • Marc from Ann Arbor says:


      I love this idea. Half bottles, three quarter bottles … even never opened bottled. Having the donations go straight to the Red Cross avoids all the red tape! I “donate” a lot of my whiskey to tastings I do for friends and colleagues. From now on … I’m going to ask them to make a donation to there favorite charity each time.

      On a serious but light note … this whole thread gets me thinking we should start a campaign similar to “the giving pledge” ( where people who have more money than they could ever spend over many lifetimes openly please to give it away in “this” lifetime … and not wait until they die. My wife often worries about what to do with all my whiskey if I go off a cliff (on purpose or not) while snowboarding. We should all pledge to put our “excess” whiskey to good use and help others while we are still around. As the cliche goes … you can’t take it with you.


  11. Kelly says:

    John, as a Jersey girl born and raised in Cherry Hill, I spent many summers at LBI, Ocean City, Atlantic City and Wildwood. I married a New Yorker who, before going to the Jersey Shore, wondered what the big deal was, and now that we go there regularly, was almost as inconsolable as me. I now live in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn where a lot of people are similarly affected, many still without power and heat (including elderly residents in high rise buildings with no elevators). I had the pleasure of previewing the Bonham’s auction and thank you not only for the chance to visit your “babies” but also for the generous gesture. Thank you to everyone who donates time, money or a favor to someone during this time. Keep the $$ coming for those in need.
    PS: to Marc from Ann Arbor, you actually have “excess” whisky in your house? Between my husband and me, that would never happen. 🙂

    • Marc from Ann Arbor says:


      In my kitchen, I have a well stocked spice rack. I always have more spices than I could ever use at one time. I guess I do the same with whiskies! Maybe they are not “excess”, but some of my friends call it excessive. For a glimpse at a truly amazing “whiskey spice rack” check out the shelves in the picture of the Lipman’s in the Winter 2011 issue of Whisky Advocate on page 56. I assume their neighbors are always coming by to borrow a cup of bourbon or a spicey rye!


  12. […] 2nd, there will be a special whisky tasting and auction in New York City to benefit something near and dear to me and my family: those individuals affected by Hurricane Sandy. The event is being organized by Robin Robinson, […]

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