About a week after Tropical Storm Sandy ravaged the New York metropolitan area, Nancy Long was eating breakfast and reading the newspaper in her home in Hicksville, New York, when she saw a photo that put a lump in her throat and an ache in her heart. In the photograph (below), a five-year-old boy, Aiden Guirl, sobs in his mother’s arms as all of his toys and other possessions are loaded into a garbage truck. The home of Grant and Kelly Guirl in Broad Channel, Queens, had been flooded with five feet of seawater mixed with oil from their furnace, and nearly everything the family owned had been destroyed, including everything in Aiden’s Toy Story-themed bedroom.
The Guirls were overwhelmed by the outreach from total strangers. Along with food, cleaning products and other household items, were plenty of toys wrapped in festive Christmas wrapping paper. Long also bought Aiden all three Toy Story DVDs to replace his that were destroyed by the flood, and gave his sister, Briana, a gift card to the Build-A-Bear Workshop.