BRUNSWICK — The Rev. Richard S. Powers said he was overwhelmed with the number of donations the church has received for flood victims in Houston.
“Our people have always been so generous over the years, but this has been phenomenal,” said Powers, who has served at Grace Baptist Church for 42 years, as he looked at a stack of items outside of the church Wednesday afternoon that were waiting to be loaded into a third semitrailer and delivered to a warehouse in Houston.
Powers said the parish partnered with churches and organizations in the Houston area to rent warehouse space with a loading dock where all the items would be delivered and organized before being sent to distribution centers or loaded onto pickups to deliver to neighborhoods.
“God has enabled us with a large facility and people who trusted us with their donations,” Powers said.
Pat Wilkinson, facilities manager at Grace Baptist Church, said they will have loaded about 98 pallets full of items after the third load Wednesday. He estimated each trailer holds about 30 pallets, some of which can be double stacked.
Donated items included:
- paper products;
- nonperishable food items;
- cases of water;
- pet food;
- adult and baby diapers;
- batteries and flashlights;
- household supplies;
- walkers and wheelchairs.
Wilkinson said he’s seen donors come from outside of the county: Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Green, Sheffield, Willoughby and Willowick.
“We had a nursing home in Canton load their bus with boxes of blankets made by the residents,” Wilkinson said. “An elderly lady (also) gave us four egg boxes full of blankets for babies that she made with matching hats and gloves.”
Powers said the church recently received a call from a mother whose son is a firefighter in Houston and said they were in need of Benadryl and bug spray due to people being stung by fire ants and bitten by mosquitoes in the water and experiencing reactions.
Those items were among a stack of donations in front of the church Wednesday afternoon that were waiting to be loaded into a semitrailer that was scheduled to leave later in the day.
“The good thing is the materials are going almost immediately down there,” Powers said.
He said the church is not accepting clothing, upon the request of organizers in Houston, due to the difficulty of sorting the items by gender and size.
The first semitrailer that left the church Friday had at least 20,000 items — worth $100,000, if not more — loaded on it, Powers said. It included 25 to 30 pallets of water.
As of Wednesday, Powers said the church was close to having $10,000 in cash donations.
“This has exploded us,” Powers said. “We planned today (Wednesday) to be our last (collection) day, but we can’t stop. People want to keep donating.”
The church began collecting donations Aug. 28. Powers said before the end of the evening that day, they had enough items to fill half of a semitrailer.
“We shared it all over social media, and you know it spread like wildfire from there,” he said. “There were a line of cars (leading up to the front of the church) to drop off materials.”
Wilkinson said last week he was at the church as early as 6 a.m. accepting and organizing donations. He was joined by fellow church staff, including Powers, and parishioners who stayed as late as 7 p.m. to load the trucks.
“Some of the materials couldn’t fit in our warehouse so we left them outside the church and told police,” Powers said. “I don’t think we lost more …”
“If anything we gained more,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson said Home Depot in Medina and Brunswick, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Akron and Armbruster Moving and Storage in Brunswick were among the many businesses that donated moving and packing supplies to the church.
As the materials are stacked on each pallet, Wilkinson and Greg Derefield, assistant facilities manager, secure the products with cellophane wrap before they are loaded in the trailer.
“We had to pull them aside from their typical weekly projects for a while,” Powers said. “We didn’t expect this. It’s been good.”
Powers said donations that aren’t shipped to Texas will be stored at a local warehouse and will be distributed to victims of future disasters, possibly to victims of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm.
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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