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NEW YORK – New York City rescue workers busy working round-the-clock digging through rubble and putting their own lives on the line in hopes of finding survivors from September 11′s terrorist attack have had enough on their minds – and not enough time – to think about going home for fresh clothes. Even when it began to rain the night of Sept. 13 and into the morning, they didn’t stop their rescue efforts. That meant any fresh and dry clothes would have to come to them. Thanks in part to the efforts of five New York credit unions – Montauk CU, League of Mutual Taxi owners FCU, Progressive CU, Melrose CU and Central CU – that’s exactly what happened. The credit unions together donated a total of $2,500 to finance a help-the-helpers shopping spree at a K-Mart on Sept. 14. Lou Jimenez, president/ CEO of Montauk CU was the brain-child of the idea. “When I heard on the Friday morning news how the rain had left rescue workers in desperate need of towels and dry clothes, I thought to myself: I can do this.” Jimenez immediately got in touch with the other four credit unions. Within 20 minutes, all four CUs had wired funds and Jimenez had $2,500 to spend on “Project Dry Socks.” With the money in hand, Jimenez headed on foot for a nearby K-Mart on 34th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, where he planned to rendezvous with LOMTO President/CEO Richard Kay, who unlike Jimenez had a vehicle they could transport the purchases in. But Kay was unable to make it through the chaotic traffic in the city, a condition that was aggravated by the impending visit of President Bush to the World Trade Center site. So Jimenez started out without Kay. At the K-Mart, he hit the socks department first. Enlisting the help of several store employees, he gathered up 1,000 pairs of socks, 250 towels and several hundred T-shirts. At this point, Jimenez faced another problem: how to get more than a dozen huge shopping bags to the Jacob Javits Convention Center at 34th Street and 12th Avenue, the staging area for donated supplies. Hailing a cab was not an option, but Jimenez then remembered that Henry Coira, a member of Montauk CU is the Deputy Commissioner of Sheriffs for the County of New York. He called Coira, and before long two sheriff cars pulled up in front of the K-Mart, were loaded up and headed west, sirens screaming. Jimenez contacted Kay, who it turned out was still trying to get to the K-Mart. He told Kay to turn around and head for the Javits Center instead, where the two eventually met up. Jimenez said the donation area was “beautifully organized.” “Somebody right away directed us to the area dedicated to supplies like ours, where volunteers took charge of them until they could be transported to the site, along with the note we had enclosed: `A small token of our appreciation for all your hard work and heroism.’ ” -

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