Tapped In: Gas Ration Ends, Sandy Book Drive, Senior Center Reopens

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Compiled by Paul Bisceglio and John Friia SCHOOL HOLDS HOLIDAY FAIR PS 199 is hosting a Holiday Boutique Fair on Saturday, Dec. 1. Over 30 vendors will sell clothing, toys, jewelry, crafts and other small gifts to benefit the school and victims of Hurricane Sandy. The fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the school's cafeteria at 270 W. 70th St. CITY ENDS GAS RATIONING Mayor Michael Bloomberg lifted the city's emergency regulation of gas purchases on Saturday, over three weeks after Hurricane Sandy crippled the city's fuel supply. The rationing, which went into effect on Nov. 10, restricted the sale of gasoline to cars with even-numbered license plates on even days of the month and odd-numbered plates on odd days (excluding taxis, buses and emergency vehicles). Bloomberg and other elected officials initially thought that supplies would return to normal a few days after the storm, but damage to fuel refineries and shipping networks, in addition to the nor'easter that struck the city shortly after the hurricane, dramatically slowed repairs. At some stations, drivers had to wait for over six hours in police-monitored lines for fuel. Critics of gas rationing were unsure it would make a difference, but according to Bloomberg, the plan was a success. "The odd-even license plate system not only significantly reduced extreme lines, but also eased anxiety and disruptions for drivers at gas stations across the five boroughs," he said in a statement. At the time of the announcement, about 85 percent of the city's gas stations were operational, up from around 25 percent when the rationing was put into effect. AUTHOR HOLDS BOOK DRIVE FOR SANDY VICTIMS Combining her love for books and helping people, author and philanthropist Carol Hollenbeck organized Rebuilding Our Bookshelves, which aims to provide books to libraries, homes and schools damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Blake Harvey, founder and president of Lawrence Blake Group Intl. and promoter of Rebuilding Our Bookshelves, explained that the book drive will continue through Dec. 16. People interested in donating books can drop them off at the Renaissance Diner, 776 Ninth Ave. at West 51st Street any time of the day. In addition, people can also make a donation to the American Red Cross. "People can drop off any types of books, because they can be donated to day-care centers that suffered damage and senior citizen homes," Harvey said. He noted that once all the books are collected, Hollenbeck will reach out to local organizations where the books will go to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Hollenbeck actively donates her time to many causes on the West Side, and has also worked with victims of domestic violence. With her newly released book True Blondes, she has pledged to donate 25 percent of sales to advocacy groups that help these victims. SENIOR CENTER REOPENS ON 42ND ST. Project FIND, a nonprofit that provides housing and services to the city's low-income seniors, held an open house last week at its new Coffeehouse Senior Center at the Holy Cross Church on West 42nd Street. The center is a relocated version of the original Coffeehouse Senior Center, a project that began in 1971 for seniors congregating in the Port Authority Bus Terminal and grew into a full-time food program that provides seniors with breakfast, lunch and social activities. The $1.2 million relocation allowed Project FIND to create a space that is fully handicapped-accessible and includes a commercial-grade kitchen. According to the nonprofit, the additional room will allow them to serve 15 percent more elderly residents. "While the community's economic demographics are changing and upscale development is happening in areas once unthinkable, the needs of this community's older adults remain the same," said Project FIND Executive Director David Gilchrist. "This cohort will increase in lockstep with the aging of the Baby Boom generation." City Council Speaker Christine Quinn attended the open house and praised the center's service to the community. "The Coffeehouse Senior Center is a valuable resource that serves thousands of seniors in my district," she said. "The new facilities will bring together more people than ever."

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