We are clearly at our best during the worst.  As bad as this week has been for many the good has shone through brightly at times. 

There have been and will be dozens of stories around the Jersey Shore in which the theme will be compassion, caring, kindness and generosity.  We are going to need a lot of that…today, tomorrow and for weeks, months and even years to come.

There are the simple acts in which neighbors run extension cords across the street to share generators or simply allow friends and sometimes virtual strangers to use their home to take a badly-needed shower and charge their cell phones.  There have been reports of stores distributing free items from bread to ice, some doing so even though they don’t have power.

The truth is we are generally speaking generous in times of tragedy and make no mistake about this. What’s happened to much of Ocean and Monmouth County is tragic.  Hundreds if not thousands of people have been displaced, most of them from barrier island towns.  Many are staying in one of the many shelters set-up and among the first was the Pine Belt Arena at Toms River High School North.

Paul Barnoski, who is the school’s Athletic Coordinator, spends much of his time at the arena for sporting and other events.  These days he’s there to help with logistics and has witnessed first-hand the generosity of so many.  Barnoski told me that people have been donating items to those in the shelter all week long from clothes to toys for the children.  The unsolicited response has been so overwhelming that beginning this morning officials are asking that all donations be dropped off at Toms River Intermediate East on Hooper Avenue from 8am-2pm.

Yesterday 7 buses of supplies were taken from High School North to Intermediate East where the Office of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross will administer the disbursement to those in need.

Here’s more kindness.  Knowing that so many are without power the Berkeley Township Little League opened its concession stand last night and offered free hot food, soup and coffee.  League President Bob Everett says they are going to do the same today from 4-8p at their complex on Moorage Avenue in Bayville and people can even get the hot items to go.  The noble effort by the Little League is also getting an assist from the ShopRite of Bayville and Martell’s Waters Edge, who have made donations.

Neighbors helping neighbors has never been more important and it’s something that must continue.