Tommy Atwell is a contractor.

In the three months since Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey's coast directly he and a crew have been working tirelessly, gutting homes, replacing sheet rock, doing demolition, and any other support work that can be found. In all, he said he thinks he's worked on about 40 homes so far.

And he hasn't taken a dime.

As a member of the Kearny Fire Department, Atwell and his fellow firefighters have made giving back part of the job description. They've held charity hockey tournaments, volunteered locally, and even traveled down to Louisiana following 2005's Hurricane Katrina to assist in rebuilding there.

Sandy's devastation brought Atwell to the Jersey Shore and he's remained here for the past few months. Every week, he said a new group of firefighters from departments all over come in donate some of their time. At times, as many as 20 guys have been on hand to help rebuild homes devastated by Sandy.

Recently, Atwell and company have been making the rounds in Seaside Park, literally going from home to home - often times they're right next to each other - as they make their way along the shore.

Late last week, the firefighters from Kearny were joined by members of the Toronto Fire Department, who made the trek from Canada to help out their brothers in New Jersey. Paul Versace said he met Atwell during a Sept. 11 hockey fundraiser years ago. He saw the devastation and reached out to see if he and his crew could lend a hand. 

That's just how it goes, Atwell said, some people are just drawn to helping others.

Though he's a contractor by trade, Atwell said it was easy to put aside the chance at making money during what is New Jersey's new construction boom. People are in need, he said, and firefighters, like always, are here to help without question.

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