Photo: Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston, Texas to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey. (Photos by Lt. Zachary West , 100th MPAD)
We heard you.
Throughout the day on Monday, as everyone learned more and more about the devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, we received calls here at United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region from people who had family and friends that lived in affected areas. They asked us if there was a way we could help get supplies to Texas residents who need them desperately during this extreme crisis situation.
Why supplies? They’re tangible. But let’s face it, the tricky part of sending supplies is making sure that what is offered is actually what is needed most in a crisis situation. Equally important is that the recipient organization really wants them and will make use of them immediately.
So on Tuesday, our Team United dropped everything and started to figure out: (a) if we were to run a supply drive what agencies serving the affected areas could receive and make use of donated supplies; (b) what supplies would be most needed; and (c) how we would receive and process the donated supplies here and then transport them to Texas.
Within hours, our team had spoken to and confirmed with the Executive Directors of Texas Diaper Bank and Feeding Texas what was needed most and that the donations our community would give would be put immediately in the hands of those in greatest need.
Our Campaign Director Elizabeth Manning reached out Tuesday night to Dennis Berns, the Hub Services Manager at UPS Freight in Montgomery, to see if he could suggest a way to mitigate the cost of transporting the donations to Texas. He immediately said they’d donate the transport of the items to the two organizations – and that UPS Freight would even pick up the inventoried and carefully packed boxes from our Poughkeepsie office.
When UPS says that they deliver impact through United Way, they really, really mean it.
To pack the supplies, our team reached out to Guardian Self Storage and they are donating as many boxes as are needed. Thank you, Guardian!
So, Wednesday morning we set up a process to receive donations; designed web pages and flyers to facilitate information about the supply drive and donations; sent out an email to our community members; notified the media in our area; and shared and shared and shared information about the Supply Drive for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey to all to our campaign workplaces and across all of our social media channels.
By Wednesday afternoon, people already were making contributions and dropping off needed donations to our offices.
On Thursday, the first day of the drive, both the Newburgh and Poughkeepsie office doors were barely closed as caring members of our community brought diapers, food, baby wipes, even some new toddler toys for members of our extended family – people in the Houston area who are now living in shelters.
Today, our Community Building VISTA Jazmin Awada, who is in charge of the Gift-In-Kind program, is beginning to sort and inventory donations. This is to ensure that we will be able to have everything shipping-ready in as short a time as possible when the drive ends at close of business day on Thursday, September 7th.
One thing that we want to make sure everyone knows is that 100%, yes one hundred percent, of all donations to this supply drive are going to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The Texas Diaper Bank will be distributing items to food banks and shelters in the affected areas, while Feeding Texas has designated food stuffs to go directly to the Houston Food Bank to then be distributed to shelters and those in greatest need. The Houston Food Bank is distributing donated items as quickly as they receive them. If Texas Diaper Bank's three warehouses are full, we will be delivering donations directly to Houston Food Bank for immediate distribution to those in greatest need.
If you’d like to participate in this supply drive, please drop off new items from the list of what is needed to either our Newburgh (123 Grand Street) or Poughkeepsie (75 Market Street) office, during business hours (closed Monday for Labor Day, Tuesday – Thursday, 9am to 5pm). For more information, click here to go to: www.uwdor.org/supplydrive-hurricaneharvey.
We know what it’s like to face hardships after storms. When our communities were hit by Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, we needed and received help too. Now it’s our turn to pay it back, just a little bit, by sending these items to our extended network of Texan friends and family.
Once the immediate crisis is over, the hard task of recovery and rebuilding will begin. Yesterday our national United Way set up The Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund to help do just that. United Way assures donors that 100% of individual donations given to the fund will be distributed to local United Ways in the affected areas. Leonardo DiCaprio started this fund off with boost, giving a $1million donation from his foundation. For more information, go to www.unitedway.org/hurricane-harvey.
We want to extend our thanks to those who called us and inspired this supply drive and to everyone who is contributing. Celia Cole, the Executive Director of Feeding Texas, explained that they are “humbled by the outpouring of support from individuals across the country wanting to donate time, aid, and money to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.” Well we are humbled by the many individuals and organizations who contacted us to facilitate this supply drive. Thank you.
We will keep you updated as the drive continues and will share information when the supplies reach Texas.
Together we LIVE UNITED!