A project initially started to benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey quickly changed directions and will now help the millions of Florida residents who are feeling the impact of Hurricane Irma.
Clinton Community Church is hosting a canned food drive to help the thousands of Floridians who have been left unable to reside in their home or currently have limited to no power in the wake of the storm that has been labeled the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic.
“Our focus is on canned goods and non-perishable items,” Clinton Community pastor Dwight Dunning said.
Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across the state of Florida, forcing thousands to evacuate their homes and leaving millions without power. The food collected through the disaster relief effort will be taken to Florida and used in feeding kitchens across the state.
“Our association’s feeding kitchen was in Texas, but is now in Florida,” Dunning explained.
Feeding kitchens prepare meals for those you are unable to prepare meals in their homes in the wake of disaster, like hurricanes. On average, the kitchen prepares and serves 2,000 meals per day.
“The food will be served to the many volunteers, but our main focus is making sure the people who have been affected by the storm are fed,” the pastor said.
According to Dunning, following the flooding in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, donations were taken to the feeding kitchen in the Lone Star state. Clinton Community made plans to collect donations to be taken to Texas, but plans changed after Irma devastated Florida’s east and west coasts.
“Our initial plan was to send this to Texas,” Dunning said. “But, now, this will go to Florida. We want to make sure we are wherever the need is.”
Statewide, more than 6.5 million homes and businesses lost power, and 220,000 people found protection in shelters. Officials are warning residents that it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone.
“We could easily be there for months feeding people,” Dunning shared.
Collections will be taken through the end of next week, and once church members receive word on where help is needed, they will ship out.
“When we know where the needs are, we will help in other ways,” Dunning expressed.
Clinton Community Church’s sister churches in Florida are keeping in touch with Dunning, advising him on the various needs being seen across the state. As of Monday morning, Dunning said he had spoken with some of the churches, and to his knowledge, none of the members had been harmed during the storm.
“There is a lot of damage in Florida,” Dunning said. “Right now, all we can do is prepare and take to them what they need.”
Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday morning in the Keys of Florida, with winds in excess of 130 miles per hour. As the storm pushed up the state and into Georgia, a tornado spun off and forced officials to issue a tropical storm warning for the city of Atlanta.
More than 100,000 Georgia residents were without power, and another 80,000 South Carolina residents were left in the dark. Over the next few days, forecasts have Irma pushing into the northwest, into the state of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Clinton Community Church is accepting donations from 12-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday. Someone will be available to help unload items during these times.
For other churches in the community who want to collect items, but need assistance making a delivery to Florida, Dunning said they are happy to help.
“We want this to be a community event,” Dunning explained. “This should be us working together to take advantage of an opportunity to get involved and give back.”
For more information, or to make arrangements regarding church collections, call the church at 910-592-3624.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.