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Vance Kitira distributes free candles to Hurricane Sandy victims

Vance KitiraLITTLE FALLS, N.J. -- When Hurricane Sandy struck the New Jersey community of candles and accessories wholesaler Vance Kitira International, the company decided to use its products to make a difficult situation a little bit brighter.

Like many in the community, the Vance Kitira office was without power for a week following the storm. On Nov. 2, the Friday after Sandy hit the East Coast, Vance Kitira employees collected candles from its warehouse and rolled them out to the curb with a "Free Candles" sign, available for any storm victims who needed them. The company spread the word on the Little Falls website and in town e-blasts.

In an email to Home Accents Today, Vance Kitira Sales Administrator Grace Dul said:

"We had a lot of takers - and they were all so appreciative, because their candles were running low and no stores had any. Some were in a panic. Some were so touched by our gesture that they cried. I spoke to one woman whose daughter was to be married that weekend and now she's lost her house. I've never said ‘You're very welcome.' so many times! It was truly a heartwarming feeling to be able to help them all in some small way. We all felt like we'd done something really meaningful."

Vance Kitira 2Dul said many of the people who stopped by couldn't believe the candles were free. When one man tried to pay company founder and president Vance Kitira and Kitira declined, Dul said the man gave them flashlight batteries as a trade for the candles.

In total, Dul said she estimates the company gave away 750 candles. After distributing 500 at the curb beside the office, employees took another 110 to a nearby condo complex, a church and the town shelter. Kitira delivered another 150 candles to the emergency management office in Franklin Lakes, N.J., where he lives.

"It was a very heartwarming experience for us," Dul said. "We've all donated to charities, but there is nothing like the one-on-one experience of actually giving directly to the recipient - to look into their eyes and to realize that we've done something good that has touched their lives in some way. It's a very emotional feeling like no other. We felt honored to have a product that would benefit those in need."

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