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N.J. roofer helps rebuilding efforts in typhoon-battered Philippines

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Roof4Roof's Chuck Anania repaired more than 40 roofs during his 10-day trip to the Philippines in early December.
Roof4Roof's Chuck Anania repaired more than 40 roofs during his 10-day trip to the Philippines in early December. - (Courtesy of Roof4Roof)

So many companies in New Jersey do so many good things for the community — it's a blessing most outsiders don't realize is a big part of the Garden State.

And while you never want to rank philanthropic acts, we admit — we think anyone would have a hard time topping Roof4Roof, a division of a Montclair roofing company run by Chuck Anania.

Our original story on Roof4Roof ran in our Thanksgiving edition (you can read it again here). But since that publication, Anania has traveled to the Philippines to aid the relief effort there. Our story on that trip is below.

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A few days after Thanksgiving, a roofing company in Montclair held a fundraiser for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which tore through the Philippines back in early November.

But instead of sending that money off to aid organizations in the devastated country, Anania took the $14,000 raised, threw in $14,000 of his company's own funds and used the combined total to fly to the Philippines and help rebuild roofs ripped apart in the storm.

That may seem above and beyond the average corporate donation, but that sort of thing is the essence of Roof4Roof, a division of Anania's company, Certified Roofing.

Roof4Roof operates on a one-for-one model, meaning that for every paying roofing job they complete, they provide free roofing repairs for someone in need.

Since he adopted that mission, Anania's work has taken him to various parts of the tri-state area, as well as to third-world countries. His company has given away roofs in Colombia and Guatemala, where the poverty was stunning.

But none of that compared to what he saw earlier this month when he arrived in Tacloban, a city in the Philippines that was nearly wiped out during the storm.

"It's probably Hurricane Sandy times five or 10," Anania said. "You look out and you see a whole field of where houses used to be, and there's probably 2 or 300 piles where houses used to be."

But there were parts of the city where the houses weren't entirely demolished, where roofing repairs could help bring a family back into their homes. And over the course of the 10-day trip, that's where Anania and his small team focused their efforts.

By the time they left, they had repaired or replaced the roofs of 42 homes in Tacloban, as well as one church, which housed a day care and a Sunday school and hosted feeding programs for residents in the area, he said.

"The church in most third-world countries is the center of so much activity and life and education," Anania said. "It's really important for the community that the church got worked on right away."

It took three days, but Anania and his crew were able to replace what Typhoon Haiyan had stripped away, he said.

And Roof4Roof plans to maintain an ongoing commitment to the area, Anania said. He formed a partnership with a local nonprofit while he was overseas and will continue providing roofing supplies and building materials going forward.

The trip was a success in many ways, Anania said, but it has brought him only a small measure of peace.

"There's satisfaction in the work we do, but unfortunately, that also comes with the realization that there are millions and millions of other people that we can't help yet," Anania said.

"Obviously we could've used all that money and rebuilt one house, but we only would've helped three or four or five people," he continued. "The reality is our mission is to help as many lives as possible."

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