More than 100 families at PS 41 in Staten Island were affected by Sandy. Thursday morning they gathered for a special breakfast, but they had no idea they are about to get a huge surprise from our very own Tory Johnson who shares her Secret Sales with us every Thursday.
"I raised $100,000 in donations. And I've taken families affected by the storm to get whatever they need. Tools, stoves, clothes, and when I heard that 115 families at this school were affected. I did the math and there are $500 gift cards for every family," Tory Johnson said.
Staten Island resident Dana Hughes was there with her daughter Summer, both were in tears.
"I was not expecting this at all," Hughes said.
Following Sandy, Tory used Twitter, Facebook and picked up the phone to rally friends and collect donations.
After living on the Upper West Side for 20 years, Tory took her first trip ever to Staten Island after the storm to find people to help.
It was bittersweet.
"Totally devastating to see lifelong dreams ripped away and so I said let's do what I do best go shopping!" Johnson said.
She began spending for those in need. The Camerada family with four children lost the first floor of their home and the family business. Tory took husband Dom to find deals on tools.
"It's people that come up, and show up and give support and tell you can get back up and make you want to start to live again," said Dom Camerada, a Sandy victim.
Another storm victim, Marlene LaSalle, who severely hurt her arm escaping Sandy, is the mother of five children, and now her husband is recovering from cancer surgery out of the two remaining livable rooms in their house.
After losing so much, she is touched by the outpouring of support and says the extra cash just in time.
"Tory Johnson has done so much for me; I don't know how to thank her. It's very touching. I'm at a loss for words," LaSalle said.
Now in a roomful of people being helped there is hardly a dry eye.
115 families were all getting $500 gift cards. They were happy tears as neighbors realized they were not forgotten.
"Our neighbors are the ones over the bridge through tunnel across the highway, we can do something to help and I felt this was what I could do," Johnson said.
"In a time of need that little bit goes a long, long way," Camerada said.
"I could never repay these people. I am going to give back what these people have given to me. It's an incredible sense of love and worth," Diane Camerada said.
It's a gift that keeps on giving, and that's a deal, as Tory would say.
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