Keys residents gathering supplies, funds for Bahamas

“As soon as the seas calm down.” Keys locals who are collecting emergency supplies for the citizens of the Bahamas plan to make the crossing just as soon as it’s safe to navigate.

“I’ve been in contact with a lot of people and the devastation from Hurricane Dorian is terrible,” said Don Horton of the Upper Keys Rotary Club. As of this writing, the storm has been parked over the Bahamas for two days — 48 hours — with winds ranging from 120 mph to 185 mph.

The Weekly is keeping a running list of giving opportunities, with an emphasis on local organizations.

  • Upper Keys Rotary Club

Horton of the Upper Keys Rotary Club was on the mainland on Sept. 2. He bought $10,000 worth of hurricane recovery supplies from a warehouse store. On faith.

“We are going to collect monetary donations from all the Rotary Clubs in District 6990,” Horton said. “We do a lot better with the funds because we can buy in bulk, have the goods shrink-wrapped and get them on the boat faster.” The plan is to fill four 20-foot shipping containers immediately. Already one is stationed in the Keys, another is on the way, and two are on the mainland. “As soon as the weather clears, we’re headed over.” He said he isn’t exactly sure where, but the goods will be loaded aboard a 181-foot yacht designed to carry expensive toys (helicopter, plane) on the open aft deck. The yacht’s owner has said he will make the ship available for repeated trips.

Locals can donate to the Upper Keys Rotary Club (KeysRotary.club) or to the Robbins Fund of the Rotary District (rotary6990.org) that covers South Florida. Folks who are interested in assisting or volunteering in this and on-going efforts to support the recovery, can also contact Rotary Club of Marathon — the club meets at noon Wednesdays at the Florida Keys Country Club, and the President is George Garrett. The club has a Facebook page with necessary contact information.

  • The Rotary Club of Key Largo Sunset will be collecting non-perishable goods and monetary donations for the victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas all day Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 4 -5) at the Publix Key Largo parking lot from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both days.  The Sunset Club is working in conjunction with the Rotary Club of the Upper Keys in collecting and transporting these donations up to District 6990 in Miami where they will be shipped to the Bahamas this week.
  • Florida Keys Lodge 336

The Masonic Lodge, located at 284 Tavernier St. in Tavernier, is collecting items to be distributed by the Masonic Lodge in the Bahamas. The lodge is accepting donations through Thursday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. Items being accepted include personal care products like soap and shampoo, health care products like rubbing alcohol, ibuprofen and baby Benadryl, paper products, canned goods, blankets, batteries, gas containers, tarps, tents and tools, among other items. For a full list of items, visit the Florida Keys Lodge No. 336 F&AM’s Facebook page.

The Masonic Lodges in Marathon (on 89th Street), and on Big Coppitt Key at (MM 11) are also collecting donations.

  • Two Conchs

Capt. Jack Carlson has partnered with Swagger Fishing out of Boca Raton to make some runs aboard a 39-foot sportfisherman, capable of running over and back without the need to refuel.

“We’ve put collection boxes in the Marathon Publix grocery store, Overseas Pub and Grill and Keys Federal Credit Union branches.

“We’re going to take the supplies up in the Two Conch trucks and stage them in Boca Raton. It’s only an 80-mile run from there to the Bahamas,” he said. “We plan to make several trips in the first couple of days.”

Carlson said he feels for the Bahamas. “This is worse than Irma. The islands are getting hammered, they are losing everything.”

  • HeadKnowles

This Bahamian-lead relief organization has the endorsement of Monroe County Long-Term Recovery Group. “If you are interested in helping the Bahamas, this organization has a track record for excellent hurricane relief activities in the island nation.”

Named after founders Lia Head-Rigby and Gina Knowles, the organization was formed in 2015 in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin. The organization was also active through the 2016 and 2017 hurricane seasons.

On littlehousebytheferry.com, Head-Rigby said the organization’s main focus will be supplying tarps and generators, evacuating people with medical or other urgent needs, and helping schools to return to normal as soon as possible. Again, cash donations allow the charity the flexibility to adapt to changing needs.

Visit the HeadKnowles’ GoFundMe page.

  • Brutus Seafood

On Friday, Sept. 13, Brutus Seafood will donate 10% of the day’s sales to the families in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian.

“We’ll give the funds to an appropriate and reputable relief agency,” said owner Elise Mucha. “Of course, we welcome any and all businesses or personal contributions to match as well.” Mucha said Main Attraction Fishing charters has already jumped on board to offer a sales percentage of the day’s take.

Brutus will also be collecting specific items (first aid, personal hygiene, soaps, and shampoo) for the next two weeks or so to send over once the initial wave of help clears the way. “Any items in those categories are welcome so we can make individual bags to be easily given out,” she said.

  • Berkshire Hathaway

The Big Pine Key office of Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate is collecting durable goods (no clothing, please) at 30362 Overseas Highway, next to Napa. Drop offs can be made between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

They have published a list of things that might be needed including heavy-duty trash bags, batteries, extension cords, paper goods, shelf-stable food including baby food, first aid items, tarps, tents, towels, personal hygiene, and tools like staple guns, shovels and totes.

For more information, contact Michele at 305-849-1270 or Hunter at 305-735-4962.

  • Key West Cares

This group of public officials and private citizens has banded together to aid the Bahamas, in particular Key West’s sister city Green Turtle Cay. Bishop John Carey of Glad Tidings Tabernacle, who was born in the Bahamas, and Jim Gilleran, longtime local and owner of 801 Bourbon, have helped organize and begin relief efforts. They’ve teamed up with local rum distiller and chef Paul Menta, who is running the Key West Cares Facebook page. The group met Sept. 4 at City Hall to organize supplies and transit to the Bahamas, and there will be a benefit concert at Key West Theater on Sept. 14.

“We are creating a donations list and looking for places to store donations,” said Mayor Teri Johnston. “We are just trying to coordinate our efforts to be as useful as we can for those folks.”

  • U.S. Coast Guard

On Sept. 2, 23 Coast Guard cutters gathered in Key West to prepare to be deployed for Hurricane Dorian relief in the Bahamas. The Military Times reports that four MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopters also made medevac runs to March Harbor in the Bahamas’ Abaco Islands on Monday to evacuate at least 19 people. The cutters plan to deploy with supplies and relief workers after an initial assessment of damage.

  • Blue Ocean Charters

Blue Ocean is accepting donations in forms of monetary donations and specific goods. Blue Ocean will help ensure that all monetary amounts are tracked and people recieve confirmation that 100% of those donations will be going towards supplies, fuel and entry fees. Any fiscal overflow will go directly towards a charity fund for relief for citizens of the Abacos and Grand Bahamas Island. More information on Blue Ocean’s Facebook and Gofundme page “Blue Ocean Official Bahamian Donation Run.”

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