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Southside Virginia comes to aid of Harvey’s victims

SoVaNow.com / August 31, 2017
The phones have been ringing at local relief organizations as county residents, businesses, churches and civic groups call to ask the question:

How can we help with Hurricane Harvey?

“Anytime anything national like this happens, we get a lot of calls from people who want to mobilize and help other people,” said Jewell Bellamy, executive director of the United Way. “And honestly, that’s what we’re here for.”

The United Way, American Red Cross, Danville-based God’s Pit Crew and other groups are springing into action to alleviate the suffering in Texas, where Hurricane Harvey has battered communities with Category 4 hurricane winds and record-setting rainfall from the tropical storm that has settled in since the weekend.

With the death toll still rising, the city of Houston coping with widespread flooding, devastation across Texas and the state of Louisiana next in the storm’s deadly path, there has been no shortage of shocking images on the airwaves this week.

For Bellamy, the storm has a personal dimension: a cousin living in Katy, Texas was forced to evacuate his apartment as the floodwaters rose. Thankfully, he escaped without harm.

“It was kind of scary,” said Bellamy.

“I’m glad and blessed he’s okay,” said Bellamy of her cousin, a family member of late county animal control officer Emmett Edmonds.

Brittany Adamson, owner of Joe and A Bow, with newly-opened locations in South Boston and Halifax, is a former resident of Houston and has many friends and family living in the affected area. To add to the relief effort, Joe and A Bow is collecting clothing and undergarments for first responders — with items such as underwear, undershirts and socks badly in need with the flooding that Houston has suffered. Joe and A Bow also is collecting disposable diapers, of all sizes, for infants of families displaced by the storm.

The shop will send the items to the Houston area via God’s Pit Crew.

The Danville relief organization has numerous collection points in the region, with Halifax Christian School accepting bottled water supplies in the South Boston-Halifax County area. “We’ve got over 32 pallets of water that have been contributed by local churches, businesses and individuals. It’s really been a community effort,” said Pastor T. Wayne Daniels of South Boston Church of God, the school’s administrator.

Daniels said one truckload of water from South Boston will be leaving for Texas on Monday, with a second truckload leaving mid-week. After encountering early difficulty getting the supplies through the storm-wracked region, God’s Pit Crew was able to make deliveries beginning on Monday.

“Blessing Buckets” for drop-off of donated items to God’s Pit Crew can be found at a number of local businesses and offices.

The Halifax County’s Sheriff’s Office is another collection point for supplies to God’s Pit Crew. Donations are being accepted during the day at the Halifax office of the HCSO.

Ginger Weaver, director of the American Red Cross in the region, has been coordinating with Red Cross volunteers who are headed off to Texas to man shelters, check on the health status of residents, and help out however they can.

Weaver said 48 Red Cross volunteers in Virginia have been dispatched to Texas, including two from her eight-county service area, which includes Halifax. At her office in the Town of Halifax, Weaver also has been taking checks for the recovery effort. (American Red Cross only accepts financial contributions.)

“We’re using up the disaster fund as fast as we can, and we’ll spend it down as long as there’s a need,” she said. Monetary donations are “the easiest and quickest [way to help] and it’s what they need right now.”

The response from the local community has been heartening: “The checks are stacking up right now,” Weaver said.

While most people choose to help out with donations of items and cash, there are some — moved by the hardships of disaster-stricken communities — who take a further step: becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Weaver recalled that when Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2005, about half a dozen people in the area contacted the Red Cross to offer their labors for disaster relief. These individuals went through Red Cross training (offered online) to become qualified to serve in disaster situations. Since 2005, some of the volunteers have passed away, but others continue to answer the call when needed.

“They’re still here,” said Weaver.

While some of the volunteers have professional qualifications — nurses are especially needed for public health emergencies — others handle simple but important chores: moving emergency supplies around in forklifts, shuttling messages back and forth across housing shelters, serving food to displaced residents. “They work ten hour days, at least,” said Weaver.

“They (Red Cross) pay for you to go, they pay for you to come back, and they feed you while you’re there, but they work you long hours,” she said. “But it’s a very fulfilling experience.”

Volunteerism is open to anyone who is willing to undergo the training and commit to serving in difficult circumstances. To become an American Red Cross volunteer, visit the website, http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer

One other way that Weaver suggested people can help: give blood. “Because they’re not [holding blood drives] down there,” she said.

The schedule of local blood drives is available online at http://www.redcross.org.

» Other ways to help:

Donate to Halifax United Way, Inc.
Tuesday & Thursday, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
In Riverdale: Tri-County Community Action Agency, Inc., 1176 Huell Matthews Hwy, South Boston
Tuesday & Thursday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
In Centerville: Heritage House (Parking Lot), 3501 Old Halifax Rd. South Boston
Tuesday & Thursday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
In the Town of Halifax: Farmers Market, 209 S. Main Street, Halifax

Blessing Bucket List: (items needed)
5 Gallon Buckets
Encouragement: Bibles & Personal Notes of Encouragement
Food Items: Water Bottles, Cans of Soda, Ready to Eat Foods (spaghetti, ravioli, Vienna sausages), Crackers, Utensils/ Napkin Packs
Personal Items: Tooth Brushes, Tooth Paste, Feminine Products, Deodorant, Small Bottles of Shampoo, Soap, Combs, Razors, Thin Bath Towel, Wash Cloths
Miscellaneous: Flashlight, Batteries, Zip Lock Bags, Cleaning Supplies, and Alcohol & Peroxide
All items will be donated to God’s Pit Crew to transport to Texas for those in need and affected by the hurricane. If you, your church, group or organization is willing to volunteer to assist with any of these efforts please call our office 434-476-1919 or show up on the designated days.

Halifax County Sheriff's Office:
The Halifax County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with God’s Pit Crew to help these Hurricane Harvey victims.
The Halifax County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the community’s assistance in collecting donations for the Hurricane victims in Texas. We will be collecting items from Wednesday, August 30 to Friday, September 1 at our office located at 134 S. Main St. Halifax. We kindly ask that people bring donations from Monday through Friday during the time frame of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. God’s Pit Crew is in need of the following items:

Water
Canned food – (Pop tops, ready to eat)
Nabs/Crackers
Utensil/Napkin Packs
Toothbrushes
Feminine products
Deodorant
Individual Soaps
Packaged combs
Packaged razors
Thin Bath Towels
Wash Cloths
Paper Towels
Toilet Paper
Cleaning Wipes
Alcohol or peroxide
Flashlight with extra batteries
Bibles
Personal note to let the recipient know someone is thinking of them

God's Pit Crew
At this time, GPC’s greatest need is bottled water and monetary donations. Monetary gifts will allow God’s Pit Crew to be able to not just respond this week, but for weeks and months to come. There have also been numerous bottled water collection sites that have been established throughout the region.
In South Boston: Halifax Christian School, 3098 Halifax Road South Boston (water can be dropped off at any time—please place where signs are marked)
In Danville: God’s Pit Crew, 2499 North Main Street, Danville, Virginia Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
If anyone would like to find out more about how to help make an impact in the lives of those affected by Hurricane Harvey, monetary donations can be made by visiting http://www.godspitcrew.org/hurricane-harvey-response, by calling the GPC office at 434-836-4472 or by mailing donations to the address above.

Other Blessing Bucket drop-off places in the county: Joe and A Bow, in downtown South Boston and Halifax; Sweet Cee’s, downtown South Boston; OneMain Financial, Halifax Square Shopping Center, during business hours.

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