Daniel Island community rallies for Hurricane Harvey victims
When West Ashley resident Mary Summy saw what was happening in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey it broke her heart. Not just because of the devastation, but because of its impact on people she cares about. She lived in the Texas city for 34 years before moving to the Charleston area last year.
“It’s horrible,” said Summy. “I know all the areas. All my friends are there. Every time I get a phone call…it’s bad. The more I can do, the better it is.”
That’s why when she stopped in for a fitness class at Daniel Island’s Fit Culture last week, and saw that the business had been designated as a drop off for donated items for storm victims, she was thrilled to be able to support the effort.
“I think this is awesome,” exclaimed Summy, whose daughter is a Daniel Island resident.
As Summy perused the hundreds of donated items filling the front lobby at Fit Culture, Cheryl Hamilton, another class participant, popped in with a handful of books.
“I brought in books because I thought if I was there, what would I want?” said Hamilton. “Something to read!”
Fit Culture owner Sarah Sands decided to make the business a donation site after hearing there were several tractor-trailers in the area heading to Houston to carry supplies.
“There was not (yet) a drop off location on Daniel Island,” said Sands. “So we contacted the organizers to see how we could help. As soon as we put information on Facebook, the Daniel Island community rallied in a big way.”
It wasn’t long before the supplies starting pouring in. Strollers, cribs, diapers, clothes, baby formula, toiletries, water and other items were stacked on both sides of the shop’s front entrance, added Sands. Two trucks were loaded up with items last Thursday and another was set to pick up newly donated supplies earlier this week.
“To see people who still have the flooding from two years ago on their minds come in and take part in this has been amazing,” she said. “It’s so wonderful to see the community come together. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Daniel Island resident Brooke Brewer also wanted to do more than sit on the sidelines in the aftermath of the storm. A native of Texas, she also has a number of family members and friends in the state.
“I realized there is a whole other area of Texas that has been completely wiped out, with no news coverage on them - and they need help” said Brewer, referencing Port Aransas and Rockport. “…My family is in Houston, my mom is from there. I’m a Texan and it breaks my heart to see my home state destroyed.”
Her sister, who also lived in Texas for years, provided Brewer with two contacts in the area - a friend who works at a hospital there and another who is a first responder. Brewer got in touch with both of them to see what she could do.
“They said ‘We are so scared we are going to be forgotten about, so much of the focus is on Houston and not on us.’”
Brewer asked for a specific list of what they needed (cleaning supplies, trash bags, hand sanitizer, charcoal for grills, brooms, wet wipes, etc) and she posted it on the Daniel Island Moms Facebook page. She asked for folks to drop off donated items to her front porch in Daniel Island Park. Within an hour of the post, the donations started arriving. She plans to ship out the items to friends in Texas who will distribute to local charities.
“We live in a very, very caring, kind community that looks out for each other,” said Brewer of the Daniel Island response. “This is a community that pulls together in a time of crisis and they all just come out and say ‘What can we do and how can we help?’”
Daniel Island resident Carina Buckman feels the same way about her fellow islanders. She has enlisted their support for other efforts, such as fundraisers benefiting Water Mission International, and they have always come through. She decided to approach the Daniel Island Property Owners Association last week to see if there was a way the entire community could contribute in a meaningful way to Harvey victims. She learned from Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the POA, that an effort was already in the works via the Daniel Island Community Foundation.
According to Baker, the Daniel Island Community Fund will be matching monetary donations up to $50,000 for three verified Hurricane Harvey relief charities - the American Red Cross, Feeding Texas, and Team Rubicon, a non-profit that deploys military veterans to aid first responders and medical professionals.
“I am so grateful…and was thrilled to hear the Daniel Island Community Fund would match up to $50,000 raised by residents,” said Buckman. “Our residents are so caring and generous that I’m sure they’ll be up for the challenge of raising $100,000 in two weeks!”
“Daniel Island is so fortunate to be a community where giving back is part of its fabric,” added Baker. “The natural instincts of our residents, especially when disaster strikes at home, in our country or in the world, is to quickly heed the call to help improve the lives of those suffering. The Harvey Relief initiative is just one more example of this philanthropic spirit and the Daniel Island Community Fund and Foundation are so proud to be partnering with our Daniel Island residents and businesses to help the victims of this terrible storm.”
To make a donation to the Daniel Island Harvey Relief Fund electronically, visit https://www.gofundme.com/daniel-island-harvey-relief. Or, you may drop off a check made out to the Daniel Island Community Foundation (with a note for Harvey Relief) at the Daniel Island POA office at 130 River Landing Dr., Fit Culture or Delta Pharmacy on Daniel Island. Checks are preferred, according to the POA, to avoid processing fees for online donations.