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Asher + Erin Schofield: 12 Who Made a Difference in RI in 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Asher and Erin Schofield, owners of Frog and Toad in Providence, galvanized a remarkable community effort on behalf of Hurricane Sandy victims.

Erin and Asher Schofield were already well-known for running one of Providence's most popular shops, Frog and Toad, as well as being catalysts for the development of their Hope Street neighborhood as a rich destination for shoppers and strollers.

But when Hurricane Sandy made her devastating landfall in New York and New Jersey, the couple found themselves immediately in the center of the storm--by choice. Deeply troubled by the news and images coming out of the region to the south, they decided on November 5th to do something about it.

Renting a 26' U-Haul, the couple created a Facebook page asking for donations for victims of the storm. Within a few days, the Schofields found themselves happily overcome by the turnout and massive number of donations.

Rhode Island responds

Teachers ran drives at their schools. Local restaurants brought non-perishable food. Donors drove in from as far away as Narragansett and Boston. A New Hampshire man mailed a huge box of batteries. The Schofields received brand-new blankets and coats, diapers, propane grills, cleaning supplies and bottled water. Folks dropped in to help sort and load--as many as 30 different Rhode Islanders showed up to help with all the heavy lifting.

The Schofields take a break to smile with First Baptist Church volunteers in the middle of the night in Far Rockaway, New Jersey.

"The generosity was unbelievable, and by the third day we realized we might be able to fill a second truck," says Asher. "By the end of our last day, we had filled a second truck and thankfully my Dad volunteered to drive it."

The November 9th journey to Far Rockaway, NY, was both arduous and deeply rewarding, as an already overwhelmed drop-off station in New Jersey couldn't accept the Schofields' truckloads. Undaunted, they corralled a local senator's office to find a place in need--and headed to a Baptist Church in a largely low-income neighborhood that had been among the hardest hit areas.

"From the people of Rhode Island"

"When they asked what organization we were with and where the supplies were from, we simply told them they were from the people of Rhode Island with much love," says Asher.  Working in the dark, in an unfamiliar neighborhood, they began unloading with the help of church volunteers. "No sooner had the second box hit the ground, there was a line of needy people forming around the block," he says. "We helped organize the relief station, sorted the supplies, filling its basement, vestibule and the back 5 rows of pews in the church. All with supplies from Rhode Islanders!"

The Schofields, who had their own storm damage to deal with at home in Rhode Island (their Warren home was flooded with a foot and a half of water and they lost many possessions, a furnace and a refrigerator), talk about how their journey to Far Rockaway revealed how small their own problems were.

"We saw people working hard to help out their neighbors," says Asher, "citizens stepping up independent of any government agency to take positive action." The couple will return in the spring to reunite with their new friends at First Baptist.  "We never expected to achieve the kind of results that we did," Asher says. "We were just representing the goodwill and concern of thousands of others."


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