Sean Sandona finds it very easy to empathize with the residents of tornado-ravaged Washington, Ill.
Five and a half years ago, his house just outside Lake Zurich burned down in the night. When he was released from the hospital the following day, he stood outside the ruins and realized he had nothing, other than what relatives could give him in the short term.
"It hit really hard," Sandona said.
Now living in downtown Chicago, Sandona said he'll never forget having to borrow clothing, even though no one in his family is the same size.
Those old feelings of sudden loss and dependency came back to him two weeks ago while watching the devastation in Washington on TV.
And though he'd never been involved with any kind of relief effort before, he began soliciting donations of supplies through the Facebook page of his Des Plaines-based construction service and supply business, North Village Group.
He hoped to collect 15 to 20 boxes of supplies from among the 80 or so people who had liked the Facebook page.
But his company soon became the collection point for several other similar efforts in the suburbs.
And so, hundreds of boxes will leave Des Plaines bound for Washington early this morning.
Sandona's staff also will bring much of its construction equipment to volunteer where needed for a few days, he added.
While there, he hopes to collect some names for an adopt-a-family-for-Christmas program coordinated through the Facebook page.
Sandona said he was in the custom home business for many years until the economy soured. He began doing snow removal instead, until some old customers began seeking his construction expertise once again. North Village Group is a company whose staff combines abilities in those two industries, Sandona said.