BY JANIE ROSMAN
On a freezing winter night Sheryl Santi Luks stood in Times Square overseeing movers load 14 colorful gondolas onto her company’s moving trucks — not all at once. “What’s better than using your resources to help bring smiles to children who are dealing with a life-threatening illness?” she said.
Luks was working at Rockland County’s alcohol abuse services in January 1975; her husband John was a commercial mover on Wall Street. “During weekends people asked him to help them move, and four months later we bought a truck,” she said. The couple formed Santi Express Moving and Storage and expanded their business in the late 1970s, when Rockland was booming.
Celebrating 41 years last month, the Valley Cottage-based company provides residential and commercial local, long-distance and corporate relocation moving services, pest-controlled climate-controlled storage and packing supplies for families, individuals or corporations.
Her adventure in Times Square began when Wheaton Worldwide Moving/Bekins Van Lines introduced Luks to Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, Florida, eight years ago. “Wheaton/Bekins agents are like family all over the county,” Luks said.
Give Kids The World Village is a 79 Acre nonprofit ‘storybook’ resort in central Florida — outside Disney World in Orlando — where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations. Private donations and company donations help fund these trips for kids, many who are too ill to go to Disney World. Many of the rides are wheelchair- and oxygen-adaptable.”
Luks arranged a trip into Times Square with two drivers to pick up the Ferris wheel gondolas donated by a recently-closed toy store. “Two tractors trailers came in from Chicago, and as they are not allowed in the city they parked in Little Ferry, New Jersey.”
It took several trips from Times Square to Little Ferry and back to make sure a LEGO® truck, Woody from “Toy Story” and other gondolas of different sizes and shapes — that will be fitted for wheelchair adaptability to become a ground ride — were safely transported.
Having trucks and warehouses were helpful when FEMA didn’t know where to put clothes following Hurricane Sandy, and People to People in Nanuet needed storage space. “We gave them space for clothing until they could give it to those who needed it.”
A licensed oncology and emergency room nurse, Luks said skills learning while training — flexibility, last-minute changes and quick-thinking — were easily adaptable to running a moving company. “At Santi Express I help people in different ways,” she said. Hand-holding and worry-soothing are skills that can be needed at any time. “I prefer to do volunteer work and give my business to local companies, where the majority of my business has come from.”
A member of New City Rotary, WestRock Women’s Alliance, Luks was a 27 years board member of the American Cancer Society. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of People to People, New York State Movers and Warehousemen’s Association, Lovell Safety management. Santi Express supports United Hospice of Rockland, The JCC of Rockland and the Center for Family and Change.
A member of New City Rotary, Rockland Business Women’s Network, and Women Business Leaders, she is a 27-year member of the Board of Advisors of the American Cancer Society. “There are many small businesses that do good for their communities,” Luks said, proud to be one. For information, visit www.santixpress.com.
Send your idea for Unsung Heroes to email@example.com