Organizers won’t know until Sunday how many donations will be headed to hurricane victims in the Dorian-ravaged Bahamas, but so for there seems to be a lot.
For the past week and a half – since the news that a bad hurricane was coming – Stanleytown Amazing Grace Baptist Church and G.R. Nelson Chevrolet, also in Stanleytown, began a hurricane-relief drive, with assistance from other area churches.
Collections are being accepted in the two sponsoring locations as well as the following Baptist churches: Wayside in Ridgeway, Faith and Northside in Bassett; Hosanna in Fieldale; Spring in Martinsville; and Mountainview in Collinsville.
Theirs is a participating drive for Hearts with Hands, a ministry of Greg Lentz of Asheville, N.C.
A trailer is outside the Stanleytown church. Its use is donated by Intertape Polymer Group of Danville.
The company’s distribution manager, Craig Hicks, is the brother of Renee Hodges of SAGBC.
“They are very project-oriented and very good at their charities,” Hodges said.
When packed correctly, she said, the truck holds 32 pallets – and to be efficient, the pallets will hold the requested items of water in bottles and gallons, large and heavy-duty trash bags, diapers, bleach and Pop Tarts.
Patrick Henry Community College President Angeline Godwin, who also attends SAGBC, has had experience with hurricane response.
“When Hurricane Katrina hit south Mississippi, I was serving as CEO of a regional economic development organization in Hattiesburg,” Miss., she wrote in an email. “The complex where our office was located was a central distribution site, so we had [to get a] list of items as recommended by the major emergency management groups. We prioritized items, and I shared the top items” with the Hurricane Dorian relief crew.
They are all the first things people in disaster areas need, Hodges said – trash bags and bleach for cleanup, Pop Tarts as easy-to-transport non-perishable food.
People can bring those donations to all the collection sites through Saturday. SAGBC will be open to accept collections from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and between its services on Sunday, from about 12:30-5:30 p.m.
The other churches and Barry Nelson and the Nelson Family Dealerships will bring the donations they’ve collected to SAGBC on the weekend, and folks from SAGBC will sort and stack items to fit into the truck.
Jimmy Willard of Disaster Relief Food Ministries in Bassett has gotten together 10 pallets of donations from other donors and delivered them to the truck, Hodges said. He and his son, Caleb Willard, got it all loaded.
At Patrick Henry Community College, Athletic Director Brian Henderson is collecting shoes in a box at Stone Hall, Hodges said.
There’s another connection to PHCC: Hodge’s husband, Greg Hodges, is the vice president of Academic and Student Success Services at PHCC as well as the pastor of SAGBC.
Somewhat across the road from the church is GR Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac, where SAGBC member Debbie Craig has worked for about 30 years.
Dealership owner “Barry Nelson is really helpful to communities and churches and anyone that has a drive to help others,” Craig said. In her three decades on staff, “I have seen a lot of kindness he’s shown to a lot of people, a lot of families.”
She has helped through several partnerships of the dealerships and churches in response to natural disasters, she added, saying they’ve got the system down pat.
A box truck is on the dealership lot, and when people come up with donations, staff members unload their vehicles for them and load the truck, Craig said.
Thinking of what people in the hurricane-affected areas are going through “makes me feel spoiled knowing that they are just wanting to survive. … You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and support people going to the front line of these disasters. I can’t go, but I sure can support someone who is going.”
The truck leaves on Monday morning, Hodges said.
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.