Donations pouring in for storm victims
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Residents across the county have responded in force to help the families who lost their homes and virtually everything in them to the 100 mph straight-line winds that devastated Big Oak Trailer Park on March 18.
“The community has really rallied around these families,” said Marlo Young, Mental Health Coordinator for the county school system, as she, Martha Goldman and Melanie Booker sorted clothes and other items at the former A.C. Moore school building Tuesday morning, March 29. “They have really come forward to help them.”
Willie Ferrell of the school system’s maintenance department is on hand to guide donors to the classroom being used to organize the donations, which will be accepted each day, through Thursday, March 31, from 8 a.m. until noon.
And, while clothes are the predominant item donated thus far, Young pointed out that the families whose lives were blown apart also need other items.
“Some of the families don’t need clothes,” said Young. “They didn’t lose their homes, but when the lights went off, they lost all their food. They can use water, non-perishable food, things like that, or Walmart gift cards so they can buy their own.”
Goldman said she received cash donations from two individuals, so she and her granddaughter, a Huxford Elementary student, went to Pensacola to shop for things specific to the children involved in the catastrophe.
“I asked her to help me shop for the girls a toy, something she thought that age would like,” she explained. “Also, the people who gave me the money specified that I get a brand-new bicycle for every one of the children.”
She added that the experience was an eye-opener for the youngster.
“It really touched her, and it was a learning experience, that we have to do for others,” she said.
The trio of volunteers also pointed out that pastors Glenn Weber of Grace Fellowship and Catadro North of Empowerment Tabernacle donated $2,200 in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Booker pointed out that an account was established by Huxford Elementary Principal Leah Fuqua for financial donations.
“It’s at First National Bank & Trust,” she said. “You can just pull up and tell the teller it’s for the Family Assistance Fund, and they will get the money into the account.”
Young pointed out that there is another area in which donors could help.
“We had six families who lost everything,” she said. “They don’t have a home, so if anyone knows of any properties available in Atmore, that may not be on the market but are for rent, please let us know. These properties are very scarce.”
She added that the storm victims are trying to make the best of a bad situation.
“Some are living with other families, and a couple are still staying in hotels,” she said. “Some have gone back into their homes and are trying to make the best of it until they can get their trailer fixed or get into something more permanent.”
More donations are expected as the week progresses. None of the donated items will be wasted.
“These people need a lot of help,” said Young.