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Ocean County Residents Reach Out To Help Neighbors In Need Following Fire

SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Many Seaside Park residents are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, but that didn't stop many of them from reaching out to lend a helping hand in the wake of Thursday's massive boardwalk fire.

The worst tragedies often bring out the best in people and this fire was no exception, CBS 2's Andrea Grymes reported Friday.

Donations poured in Thursday and Friday. Many who donated said they just wanted to pay the charity forward after they were taken care of during Sandy.

"They worked all night to save us. I just had to give back," Angela Del Russo said.

PHOTOS: Massive Fire Strikes Sandy-Hit Jersey Shore

Del Russo struggled to hold back tears after she dropped off water and Gatorade for firefighters who were working to put out the massive boardwalk fire, which went up just blocks away from her Seaside Park home.

"I can't even think about it. My heart has been broken so many times this year," she said.

Del Russo said she didn't hesitate to make a donation to the People's Pantry in Toms River, especially after seeing so many acts of kindness during and after Sandy.

The executive director of the pantry said that workers sprang into action immediately and started soliciting food donations for first responders.

"By 9:30 last night there were hundreds of hamburgers and dozens of pizzas," Pat Donaghue said.

On Friday, volunteers drove a van full of sports drinks to the fire site, where they were distributed by PBA Conference Chair John Cernek and a team of helpers.

"Jersey strong. that's what we're all about," Cernek said.

In the wake of further devastation workers praised the initiative of Ocean County residents.

"The things people do in this country are unbelievable," retired corrections officer Ed Weimmer said, "They just come together when there's a tragedy."

Cernek said that so many donations came in they had to tell eateries to stop delivering food for the rest of the day because they had so much.

The People's Pantry is requesting dry food donations until they have a better idea of what will be needed.

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