Ch­esco opens heart to help

Lo­cal first re­spon­ders team up for hur­ri­cane re­lief

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - Staff Re­port

Heartwrench­ing im­ages of the dev­as­ta­tion in Texas have struck a na­tion­wide chord of com­pas­sion while prompt­ing a re­cur­ring ques­tion: What can peo­ple do from afar to help?

In re­sponse, two area first-re­spon­ders hatched a plan, and with the as­sis­tance of the Ch­ester County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, a drop-off site for do­na­tions opened on Thurs­day, Aug. 31, at the Gi­ant su­per­mar­ket in the Dil­worth­town Cross­ing Shop­ping Cen­ter.

Area res­i­dents are in­vited to help fill a trac­tor-trailer, parked out­side the store at 1393 Dil­worth­town Road in West Ch­ester. Vol­un­teers will be man­ning the site for at least the next sev­eral days from ap­prox­i­mately 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Ch­ester County Sher­iff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh said Ron Giac­into, a cap­tain with the West Ch­ester Fire Po­lice and a vol­un­teer at Good­will Fire Company No. 2, and Ted Hartz, pres­i­dent of Good­will Fire Company No. 2, ap­proached her about help­ing with a hu­man­i­tar­ian aid ini­tia­tive for Texas.

“My re­sponse was a re- sound­ing yes,” said Welsh. “Every­one has been feel­ing help­less and won­der­ing how they could help the res­i­dents of this rav­aged area. This gives all of us a way to reach out to those in need.”

Welsh said she was work­ing with her na­tional sher­iffs’ con­nec­tions to lo­cate an ap­pro­pri­ate drop-off lo­ca­tion in Texas.

Giac­into, who or­ga­nized a sim­i­lar ef­fort dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, said Wayne Mov­ing & Stor­age stepped up and not only sup­plied a trac­tor-trailer but is do­nat­ing the gas and driv­ers needed to make the trip across the coun­try.

“That was huge,” Giac­into said, adding that once he and Hartz an­nounced the plan on Face­book, peo­ple be­gan con­tact­ing them. Giac­into said some busi­nesses al­ready had started col­lect­ing items but weren’t sure how to get them to the right peo­ple. “So now they’ll bring stuff to us.”

Be­fore Giac­into even had time to put up signs, drop-

offs be­gan on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. Patty Leav­ens of Thorn­ton said she read about the ef­fort on Face­book and added some items to her shop­ping list so she could do­nate them.

Ge­or­gette Bal­back read the same post and drove up from New London to pur­chase a shop­ping cart full of sup­plies.

“I re­ally wanted to be able to help,” she said.

Items that will be ac­cepted in­clude non-per­ish­able food, bot­tled wa­ter, sports drinks, baby sup­plies (di­a­pers, wipes, bot­tles, for­mula, car seats, pack and plays, strollers) pet sup­plies (dog or cat food), cat lit­ter, bat­ter­ies, Lysol or Clorox wipes, fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts, toi­let paper, paper tow­els, ra­zors, shave cream, tooth brushes/tooth­paste, body wash/soap, de­odor­ant,

brushes, combs, sham­poos, snack packs, adult di­a­per prod­ucts (De­pends), first aid prod­ucts (ban­dages, Neosporin, etc.), adult and chil­dren’s Tylenol, large garbage bags, rub­ber gloves, pil­lows (NEW only), and gift cards (such as VISA, gas, and Wal­mart).

Or­ga­niz­ers said they can­not ac­cept cloth­ing or toys since they lack the re­sources to process them.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ch­ester County Sher­iff Bunny Welsh helps load sup­plies tar­geted for the Hous­ton re­lief ef­fort at the Gi­ant su­per­mar­ket in the Dil­worth­town Cross­ing Shop­ping Cen­ter on Thurs­day.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Area res­i­dents are in­vited to help fill a trac­tor-trailer, parked out­side the store at 1393Dil­worth­town Road in West Ch­ester.

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