By Elly Yu
The runners tossed blankets, gloves, jackets and other gear onto the pile, each leaving a piece of where they came from. A French man donated his running shirt and pants, and noted that they were designer wear. Enybe Merritt, 32, contributed a West Virginia University Cycling sweatshirt.
Runners from around the nation and around the world left clothing for hurricane victims in a huge pile in front of Columbus Circle at the entrance of Central Park on Sunday – clothing they would have abandoned at the starting line in Staten Island if the New York City Marathon had been held as scheduled.
The mound of clothing was the result of an impromptu “Run for Sandy” campaign organized by and for runners who were disappointed that the marathon was called off but wanted to support victims. “Basically, people are taking jackets off their own backs,” said Alison Bloom, 20, one of the organizers of the drive. “It’s really heart-warming to see this, especially from an international group.”
After tossing their gear onto the pile, many would-be marathoners then ran around Central Park with “Run for Sandy” inked on their shirts. Some ran the full 26.2 miles they would have run in the marathon, doing four circuits of the park and change, instead of the usual five-borough course.
The group that organized the drive, Run 4 All Causes, started up on Friday night after Patricia Brady, 23 found out the marathon was cancelled. She was supposed to run for UNICEF.
Brady and Gabby Moreno, 24, both graduate students at NYU, teamed with Bloom to offer marathoners a way to help hurricane victims. Using social media, they spread the word: Donate your stuff.
At 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, they had just three cardboard boxes for donations that read in black marker, “Sandy Victim Donations.” By noon, they had dozens of plastic garbage bags filled with clothing, and they were organizing a way to carry it all to a nearby YMCA that was coordinating donations.
“It's amazing,” Patricia Brady said. “I got tears in my eyes,"
Leng Leng Koh, 40, who learned the race had been canceled shortly after she stepped off a plane from Singapore Friday afternoon, was one of several runners who helped collect the clothing from other runners.
"Since I can't run anyway, I'll help, continue to help and go home,” Koh said.