Fair, CCSO organize massive relief effort for Hurricane Ian victims

Goal is to send two tractor-trailers filled with supplies to Fort Myers area

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 10/4/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Ralph Jones pulled a box loaded with an assortment of essentials from his car Monday and handed it over to a volunteer at the Clay County Fairgrounds.

The retired Clay …

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Fair, CCSO organize massive relief effort for Hurricane Ian victims

Goal is to send two tractor-trailers filled with supplies to Fort Myers area

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Ralph Jones pulled a box loaded with an assortment of essentials from his car Monday and handed it over to a volunteer at the Clay County Fairgrounds.

The retired Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputy knew his box that included paper towels, toothbrushes and toothpaste won’t make a big difference in the grand scheme of the dire situation facing the survivors of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida. But he had to do something.

“Having grown up in Florida, when I was working with the sheriff's office I was always on call and I had to come out when there was storms,” Jones said.

“It’s not a lot, but if everybody does a little, then you got a lot.”

Residents in the hurricane-ravaged area need a lot. So Clay County Fair Executive Director Tasha Hyder and Sheriff Michelle Cook organized Supply Drive Southwest Florida relief effort to collect essentials for designated areas that were in the storm’s path.

So much is needed, Hyder said, but she’s determined to send at least two tractor-trailer loads – with a sheriff’s office escort – in the next day or two.

The collection drive started Monday morning at the fairgrounds and will continue as long as people want to give. Goods were being stored in a small warehouse behind the fair association's main office. By the end of the first day, the building was more than halfway filled.

“I’m so happy with the outcome so far,” Hyder said. “We’ve collected $2,000 and lots of supplies. It made me happy to see the turnout. It was a very emotional day.”

Hyder was part of a group of fair operators formed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group is called FairStrong and it is committed to helping neighbors.

“We're bringing it out with the hurricane because we are very strong,” Hyder said. “To our friends in Southwest Florida, the fair in Collier County, our event friends in Fort Myers community project, we're all coming together. They're telling us what they need and we're making it happen.”

To spread the word, the collection effort is posted on the sheriff’s office, fair association and Clay Today websites.

Everything collected at the fairgrounds will be sent specifically to underserved areas in Pine Island, Matlacha, Arcadia and Harlem Heights.

“We are collecting donations where you have direct points of contact and directly to Southwest Florida,” Cook said. “And so the items that are donated are already pre-arranged to go somewhere.”

After one day, Hyder said the effort already has enough hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and toothpaste. But there are so many other things that are desperately needed, like air mattresses, sheets, pillows, small propane bottles, coolers, towels, solar-powered battery chargers, plastic baggies, light with USB charging, batteries, extension cords, heavy-duty trash bags, trashcans, gloves, bleach, Gatorade, sunscreen, bug spray, pet food, peanut butter, mops and brooms. A full list is posted on all three websites.

“If you cannot make it out to the fairgrounds, we can come to you we have volunteers that will come pick stuff up from you,” Hyder said. “We also have Venmo at Clay County there and we have an Amazon shopping list at (https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2LBM5KK63KNA4?”

The drop-off location for donations is 2493 State Road 16, Monday-through-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For pickup, call (904) 284-1615.

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