Local drive to help Harvey victims
GRASONVILLE — Longtime volunteer firefighter and community activist Justin Davs of Grasonville is spearheading a local effort to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey. According to National Weather Service reports, more than 51 inches of rain fell on Houston and surrounding areas over a six-day period, resulting in deadly flooding and widespread devastation. As of Monday, Sept. 4, Harvey’s death toll was at 60 and expected to climb.
“We will be collecting items at least through Sept 15. Operations in Texas are still in a rescue phase, and we do not want to do anything to hinder those operations,” Davis said. “Victims will need assistance for some time with this major catastrophe.”
Items needed include: bottled water, sports drinks, cleaning supplies, non-perishable (ready-to-eat) food items (pop top cans are best or please supply a can opener), canned pet food, toiletries, hand sanitizer, baby formula, wipes, diapers, new underwear and socks, new pillows and blankets, and feminine hygiene products.
Davis noted that clothing donations are acceptable, but items must be new or nearly new and sorted by size and gender.
Donations of Pack ‘n’ Plays are also needed for distribution at shelters, he said.
Drop off locations include: Best Western Plus Easton Inn & Suites, 8708 Alicia Dr., Easton; Church Hill VFD, 316 Main St., Church Hill; A-Shore Out Bail Bonds, 101 S. Commerce St., Centreville; La Piazza, 4701 Main St., Grasonville; Crossbones Tattoo and Body Piercing, 305 Saddler Road, Grasonville; El Jefe Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar, 1235 Shopping Center Road, Stevensville; Vape Bird, 356 Romancoke Road, Stevensville; Shore Stop South, 201 Romancoake Road, Stevensville, and Ace Hardware, 321 Independence Blvd., Dover.
Jason Baker is providing a box truck for the trip, and many of Davis’ friends and local businesses are pitching in to help.
La Piazza in Grasonville, for example, pledged 10 percent of the proceeds from all pizzas sold last week through Sept. 2 to the cause, and is serving as a drop off site and collecting monetar y donations.
El Jefe in Stevensville has served as a meeting and planning site as well as a drop off point.
Keri Anthony collected socks, towels and blankets during her shows last weekend in Rehoboth, Ocean City and St. Michaels.
The residents of Symphony Village in Centreville are also donating.
This relief effort is just the latest of many for Davis, who started the relief drives after 9/11, when he took supplies to first responders and their families in New York City. Over the years his efforts have aided victims of a variety of natural disasters, including tornadoes in Illinois, flooding in West Virginia, Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina, and, most recently, the tornado on Kent Island.
Friends and fellow volunteers have urged Davis to turn his altruistic efforts into an official nonprofit, and he has started the process. Operating under the name First Light for First Responders, Davis has established a board of directors and is working on the paperwork, but it isn’t finished yet.
Those who want a taxdeductible receipt would do better to direct their donations to organizations like the Red Cross or UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief) that can provide them.
However, if you simply want to help with the knowledge and assurance that your donation will go directly to someone in Texas who needs it, First Light for First Responders will be happy to have it.
Davis usually works through fire and emergency services volunteers in the areas affected, so the donations quickly reach those who need them without so much red tape.
Davis also will be accepting donations at the Salute to Heroes 9/11 memorial, set for 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, at The Jetty on Wells Cove Road in Grasonville.
Anyone wanting to volunteer, help with loading or accompany the effort can reach Davis at 410-829-2821.