The Washington Post

2 Arlington men collect donations, drive to N.J. to help Sandy victims

Frank Murphy, right, and Frank Fumich drove a 26-foot U-Haul truck full of donations to Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey. (Courtesy of Frank Murphy)

It all started with a Facebook post.

After safely riding out Hurricane Sandy in an oceanfront condo in Ocean City, Md., Arlington native Frank Fumich realized “how lucky we were” compared to many victims of the superstorm.

“I appreciated what I had and didn’t lose, and what these people did,” he said.

Fumich, 44, decided to put out a social media call Sunday night asking for clothing, food, cleaning supplies and donations, which he would drive up to hard-hit New Jersey later in the week.

Fumich’s friend Frank Murphy, along with many others, saw the post.

“In 30 seconds I called him and said ‘I’m going with you,’” said Murphy.

Those who couldn’t go rallied around him.

With people posting and re-posting Fumich’s Facebook status, the donations poured in. They spilled out of his garage onto his driveway. Acquaintances and complete strangers gave him items and money.

“I was standing in line to vote and someone handed me $100,” Murphy said of one friend.

By Wednesday, there was enough to fill at 26-foot U-Haul truck, from floor to ceiling.

“Things were falling out, it was just a wall,” said Murphy, 33, of Arlington.

Fumich and Murphy spent about 12 hours Wednesday organizing and packing the donations. They put flats of water bottles and canned goods on the bottom, threw bags of clothes in the middle and then jammed everything else on top – with broomsticks often sticking out.

“We had like hundreds of bags of clothes, it was insane,” Fumich said. “We basically used every inch of it.”

On Thursday morning, they left for New Jersey, heading home just a few hours later.

They stopped briefly in Ocean City, N.J., before reaching Morganville, in Monmouth County, to unload at an office of Keller Williams Realty. The real estate company promised to distribute the items.

“It was incredible, to see these people’s faces was just breathtaking,” Murphy said. “I would love to do it again.”

The two Franks are both runners. Fumich, the owner of a small airline catering company, is an ultra-marathoner who completed a triple Ironman and has run the Four Deserts race series (Sahara in Egypt, Gobi in China, the Atacama Crossing in Chile and the Last Desert in Antarctica).

Murphy, a former firefighter who now works in real estate, is training for his first Ironman.

Both called the collection and drive to the Garden State similar to a “post-race high.”

“Of all my personal accomplishments, this feels much better and more fulfilling than those things,” Fumich said.

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