STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
FOR A MORE COMPLETE LIST OF HOW TO HELP HARVEY VICTIMS, CLICK HERE.
KINGSLAND — As Amanda Barnett looked at images of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of the Texas coast, her heart sank.
“I’ve been watching all of this, and my heart is broken,” Barnett said. “My favorite place on Earth is Port Aransas. We go there every year.”
The Kingsland Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary secretary decided to help her fellow Texans affected by catastrophic flooding and storm damage with a donation drive for needed items such as food, water, clothing, and more. It’s one of many relief efforts being organized in the Highland Lakes.
Barnett said the auxiliary will work closely with the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce and the city of Dickinson to get the donated items to families in need.
“We do have some place to go,” she said. “Before heading out, I would recommend to anyone to make sure you know where you are going. Our volunteer fire department is escorting us down there and going with us.”
The group will leave Saturday, Sept. 2, with donated supplies from a community in Iowa as well as items from the Highland Lakes.
Marble Falls Fire Rescue Chief Russell Sander asked residents to slow down before sending donations to the hurricane and flood-impacted areas of Texas.
“Right now, from those I’ve talked to, they’re still in the response mode down there,” Sander said. “They don’t know what they need, and the last thing we probably need to do is send down things they don’t need or will just sit there.”
He and others are working to gather information on what is needed for both victims and first responders.
“We’re trying to put feelers out and find out what they need,” Sander said.
He recommended that, if people don’t want to wait, the best option right now is to make monetary donations to the American Red Cross. Those donations can be made through the organization’s website at redcross.org.
Calvin Richard of Verus Strength and Fitness, who along with many from his New Orleans-area church settled in the Highland Lakes after Hurricane Katrina, posted on his Facebook page that many Hurricane Harvey evacuees are finding refuge in the Highland Lakes.
These folks, he said, are in need of donations and, especially, gift cards, particularly from H-E-B and Walmart. People can drop off gift cards at Verus Strength and Fitness, 708 Industrial Blvd. in Marble Falls.
Several evacuees staying in the Highland Lakes have stopped by The Helping Center of Marble Falls for food. Executive Director Sam Pearce said the facility is in need of non-perishable items such as microwaveable mac-and-cheese, Ramen, egg noodles, powered milk, jelly, and shelf-stable food. In addition, the facility also has been giving out gas cards. Residents can purchase gas cards in $10 increments from H-E-B to give to The Helping Center.
“I hear our local motels are full right now,” Pearce said. “We need ready-to-eat food with people staying in cars or with other people. We hear there are 16 people in a house, 11 people in a house. There are a lot of large families coming into houses today.”
A food truck is scheduled to deliver more items to the facility Tuesday, Aug. 29, Pearce said.
Burnet Consolidated Independent School District is also collecting funds for victims. Twenty percent of the donations will go to sister Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) schools, and 80 percent will go to the American Red Cross.
“(AVID classes) help prepare students for college and life,” Superintendent Keith McBurnett said.
Teachers instruct students on how to take better notes, how to write and give a speech, and other skills people use every day, he added.
Since Burnet CISD is part of the national AVID program, McBurnett wanted to make sure AVID campuses near the Texas coast received help.
Well Played, 1007A Broadway in Marble Falls, also is accepting donations for a church in Houston. Needed items are cleanup supplies, dehumidifiers, air circulators, extension cords, ground fault protectors, pop-up canopies, shovels, wheelbarrows, crowbars, hammers, work gloves, ladders, buckets, chain saws, tools for home repair, portable lights and generators, nail guns, mops, brooms, safety glasses, liquid laundry detergent and household cleaners, scrub brushes, sponges, paper towels, canned air freshener, clothespins and clotheslines, and rain ponchos.
Hill Country Builders Association cook-off committee chairman Colby Duke is driving to Rockport to cook meals for victims, crews, and volunteers this weekend. He needs donations of food, utensils, and other items such as foil, foil trays, paper plates and towels, water, sodas, sports drinks, hamburger patties, weenies, buns, briskets, pork butts, sausages, charcoal, propane tanks, individual servings of chips, condiments, and trash bags. Drop off items at the association’s office, 1401 Broadway, Suite B1, in Marble Falls. Call Colby at (210) 240-5155 for more information.
As for helping out in storm-damaged areas, four members of the Kingsland Volunteer Fire Department are headed to the Houston area, which has been hit with catastropic flooding, to offer assistance. The four men, Chief Darryl Miller and firefighters Joey Wittenburg, Josh Fry, and Cody Young, left Kingsland on Aug. 27 to the Houston area, but officials in Southeast Texas redirected them to Dickinson to help the community there.
If people would like to give non-perishable food, clothing, toiletries, baby supplies, blankets, pet supplies, batteries, and flashlights, the Kingsland VFD Auxiliary is gathering donations at the Burnet Volunteer Fire Department, 104 Rhomberg in Burnet.
Barnett and auxiliary members Kathy Aponte, Tonya Miller, and Brandi Smith have all agreed to pick up donations if people are unable to drop them off at the fire department. Text Aponte at (830) 613-6366 or Miller at (325) 248-7114 or call Smith at (325) 247-0427 or Barnett at (512) 265-4146 to arrange pickups.
“If we can help, we’ll try to help,” Barnett said. “We’ll make arrangements to pick it up. We’re really working hard to try to pull our community together to help our coast.”
The group plans to take items to Dickinson on Friday, Sept. 1.
Llano Elementary School, 1600 Oatman St. in Llano, also is accepting donations of drinking water, diapers, wet wipes, and canned goods and will take the items to South Texas relief agencies. Make donations until 8:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 1.
In Marble Falls, people can drop off donations at the Keller Williams Realty office, 212 Main St.
Making monetary donations to the Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts remains one of the best ways to help the victims, officials said.
Individuals also can make monetary donations to the Salvation Army. The Rev. George Perry of St. Frederick Baptist Church, a board member of the local Salvation Army, will make sure the money goes to the hurricane victims. Those writing checks should state in the memo that it’s for Hurricane Harvey victims.