68ºF

Looking for a way to help Hurricane Harvey victims?

Local volunteers, groups collect donations for hurricane relief

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local volunteers are getting together to coordinate relief efforts and collect items across Northeast Florida to be sent to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. 

Some of those volunteers, like Martha Nourse, are still recovering from their own losses after Hurricane Matthew hit the First Coast last year. 

Nourse is a woman on a mission, dropping off items, big and small, that might help Harvey's survivors. Everything from diapers and pet food to water and feminine hygiene products. 

RELATED: How you can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey

Nourse has an idea of what's needed most, because she lost her home in Matthew last year.

"The amount of help that we received, by pure strangers, was -- we could never repay it,” Nourse said.

Instead, she's paying it forward, even as images from Harvey's devastation bring back painful memories.

"The images are so horrific, and they bring back the memory and the smell and having to clean out the houses, and just everything that's been lost,” Nourse said.

Nourse's father, Steve Cotter, a disaster coordinator with the American Red Cross, is stationed in Houston.

"He's been to Louisiana floods. He's been to the -- when Matthew hit North Carolina, he helped out there. He's seen a lot of this. He says this is by far the worst,” Nourse said.

But Nourse said she's seen how the worst can still be overcome by the good in the world, and helping out in a small way can have a lasting impact.

A convoy of volunteers with boats and supplies left Monday with items for shelters in Houston, Rockport and Victoria. Another convoy is leaving Wednesday for the Houston and Rockport areas.

Those who want to donate items for the relief effort can leave them in the carport at 142 Hurst St. in St. Augustine. 

Anyone with questions about donating can contact Nourse at 904-424-5072 or by email at mnourse1@gmail.com.

Nourse will also be working with local businesses and groups to rescue some of the animals from the Harvey areas and bring them back to St. Augustine. The animals will need foster families.

Middleburg couple joins relief effort

A Middleburg couple is using their home supply business to collect items for donation that they will transport to the Gulf Coast.

Baby food, formula, diapers, wipes, pillows, blankets and small stuffed animals are being collected at T. Phillips Mobile Home Supply at 4230 County Road 218 in Middleburg.

"Just one little, small item can make the world of a difference," Tammie Phillips said. "I want everyone to know it doesn't matter how big or how small you think it is, it does matter, and we can make a difference."

Once a truckload of the items is collected, the company will rent a large truck and the couple will take the items to those most in need. They hope to be on the road with the donations by Saturday.

They are accepting only new items, which can be dropped off at their business from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

For information, contact T. Phillips Mobile Home Supply at 904-214-3634.

Other donation collections

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed up to $20 million in support of relief efforts in response to the severe weather impacting the Gulf region. This includes $10 million focused on support of American Red Cross shelters and $2 million in support of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

To help those in need, Walmart is launching a customer campaign with the American Red Cross to assist with Hurricane Harvey relief. As part of the customer campaign, Walmart is matching customer donations two to one with cash and product donations of up to $10 million to support American Red Cross disaster relief.

  • Northeast Florida customers can donate any amount to the American Red Cross at registers in Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs.
  • Northeast Florida customers can donate any amount to the American Red Cross on Walmart.com and Samsclub.com.
  • Northeast Florida customers also have the option to donate $10 via their wireless carrier by texting WALMART to 90999.*

For every $1 donated, Walmart will contribute $2 worth of cash or, at Walmart’s option, needed product to the American Red Cross, up to $10 million.  Walmart’s product contributions will be valued at Walmart’s cost.

The campaign will run through Wednesday, Sept. 6.

Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, the American Legion Post #233 will be hosting its first ever Charity Flea Market and Tailgate Fest to support Hurricane Harvey victims. The American Legion Post #233 is located at 560 North Wilderness Trail, Ponte Vedra Beach. 

Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of North Florida Winn-Dixie and Harvey’s stores, announced Thursday the launch of an in-store community donation program to raise funds for the American Red Cross to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Through Sept.6, customers can make donations at all local Harvey's, and Winn-Dixie stores at checkout -- and on both of their websites.

Every cent raised will go to the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief to provide food, shelter and other assistance to tens of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Customers can donate at the American Red Cross’ website.

Angel Kids Pediatrics has partnered with the Gruene Marines, a Texas chapter of the Women Marines Association to collect and deliver aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. 

Their five pediatric offices across Jacksonville will begin Friday collecting much-needed children’s items, including baby food, formula, diapers and children’s clothes from the local community to be delivered to those affected in Texas. The partnership with the Gruene Marines will enable them to deliver relief efficiently to those in need. 

The group continues to seek other community partners in its effort and is calling on the Jacksonville community to support them.

Donations of non-perishable items of baby food, diapers and children’s clothes can be dropped at any of the Angel Kids Pediatrics locations. For  locations, visit www.myangelkids.com.

Love of God Global Ministries is collecting pop-top canned goods, water, Gatorade, juice, toiletries and blankets.

Volunteers Tremain McCreary and Tiffiany Washington said they plan to leave Sept. 8 and will be collecting until then. Some of the volunteers helping have loved ones in flooded areas, but they all said they want to help for one reason.

"It's not about race, religion or sexuality, with things that society likes to focus on nowadays. It's more of the bigger picture," McCreary said. "Once there's a problem, as a community, we must come together."

Donations can be dropped off from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at 5211 Timuquana Road, Suite 13, in Jacksonville.

Those coordinating the donations can be reached at 904-930-3787 or by Facebook message

The church has also set up a GoFundMe account for those who would rather donate money online.

A local coalition has formed between about 10 local churches and First Coast High School in Oceanway, which are coming together to fill a box truck with baby wipes, baby food and diapers. The group's contact on site, Orphan Care Solutions of Texas, has told them that those are some of the most-needed items for families who had to leave everything behind in the floodwaters. The group is hoping for a full truck when it heads to Texas on Monday. To help their effort, people can drop off new and unopened items starting Thursday at: 

  • Journey Church Amelia Island, 95707 Amelia Concourse, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 
  • First Coast High School, 590 Duval Station Road, Jacksonville, FL, 32218 
  • North Jax Baptist Church, 8531 Main St N, Jacksonville, FL 32218
  • Cedar Bay Baptist Church, 11553 Main St N, Jacksonville, FL 32218
  • Victory Celebration Baptist Church, 3220 New Berlin Rd, Jacksonville, FL, 32218
  • Oasis Church, 422 New Berlin Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32218
  • Restoration Baptist Church, 11828 New Kings Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32219
  • First Fruits Outreach, 8625 New Kings Rd, Jacksonville, FL, 32219
  • Generation Next, 422 New Berlin Rd, Jacksonville, Florida, FL 32218
  • Lannie Road Baptist Church, 5998 Lannie Rd, Jacksonville, Florida, FL 32218

People can also give financially to help purchase the items by visiting boldcitychurch.com/give or texting give to 904-844-0996 and following the prompts to give specifically toward the hurricane relief. 

Generation Homes in St Augustine will be accepting Hurricane Harvey donations at its Sea View Community at 54 Ocean View Dr. in St. Augustine Beach, just south of Saltwater Cowboys Restaurant on A1A. Please bring water, bedding and hygiene items, such as diapers, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, formula, hand soap, contact solution, etc. The group is not accepting clothing donations. 

Donations can be dropped off from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the rest of the week.

Collis Roofing's St. Augustine Branch is accepting donations to be delivered to the families and residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

The business is collecting the following items: 

  • Non Perishable Food
  • Pet Food
  • Water Bottles
  • Toiletries and Flushable Wipes
  • Diapers for Children and dependent Adults
  • Sealed Baby Food and Formula
  • Blankets and Towels
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Sealed Bottles of Over the Counter Medicine 
  • Sealed First Aid Kits
  • Socks and Flip Flops
  • Coloring books and crayons (for the kids)

The business is not accepting any cash or check donations.

Items will be accepted through Friday, Sept. 8, at Collis Roofing at 5750 U.S. 1 in St. Augustine. 

The Bradford County Sheriff's Office will start collecting items needed for the victims of Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday starting at 9 a.m. The items will be transported as soon as possible to help with the recovery efforts. If you have any questions, contact 904-966-6307 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

For a list of items being collected by the sheriff's office, click here.

Outreach of America at 236 Industrial Loop East in Orange Park is collecting bottled water, toothbrushes and toothpaste, towels, personal hygiene items, soap and flip-top canned goods ever day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 1-11. For information, call 904-269-3041.

Angie's Subs at 1436 Beach Blvd. is also accepting donations for Texas for the next two weeks, according to the restaurant's Facebook page.

The Justice Coalition is collecting donations in its parking lot at 1935 Lane Ave. South, Suite 1.

A team of businesses in The Jacksonville Landing is collecting donated items. For a list of items being collected, click here. Gift cards are also being requested. Drop off is at The Jacksonville Landing, Suites 104/106. If you have questions, call 904-534-7987.

A small group of individuals is gathering supplies to take to Houston and will be leaving Sept. 15. Contractor trash bags, hand sanitizer, diapers, baby food and formula, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products and cleaning supplies can be dropped off at Community Presbyterian Church at 150 Sherry Drive in Atlantic Beach. Anyone with questions can email jaxs2huston@gmail.com.

Got Your 6 Female Veteran Support Services has partnered with Fleet DJ's Florida and Texas to host a Hurricane Harvey relief collection and fundraiser. 

Specific list of items needed:

  • Baby wipes and wet wipes
  • Ziplock bags
  • Dog food
  • Dog collars and leashes
  • Small first aid kits         
  • Hygiene items
  • Toilet paper
  • Juices and water
  • Snacks
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Backpacks
  • Kids clothing

Items will be collected starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2 and 9 at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church located at 2825 San Diego Road, Jacksonville, Florida, 32207. For more information, please contact Nicole Gray at 708-374-4647 or William David at 904-312-2831.

The Blueprints Academy Inc. at 10352 Monaco Dr. in Jacksonville is collecting donations Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The assistant director said they are accepting baby clothing, diapers, wipes, soap, powder, feminine products and hygiene products.

Five Northeast Florida nonprofits are joining together to help rescue animals in danger in Texas. Florida Urgent Rescue Inc. (FUR), Saint Francis Animal Hospital, WANDA CARES DOG Rescue, Pitstop Pit Bull Rescue Transport and Helping Hounds Project are working together to bring supplies to Texas shelters and bring back animals from flooded areas. Homemade Hounds Bed & Biscuit will also assist with boarding. 

To donate to help with transport and vet expenses, visit https://www.youcaring.com/texasrescuemission.

Supplies can be donated until Thursday at:

  • Pet Supplies Plus -- 977 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
  • Pet Supermarket -- 609 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32250
  • Pet Supermarket --12740 Atlantic Blvd Jacksonville, FL 32225
  • Saint Francis Animal Hospital -- 2727 Atlantic Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32207
  • Several other organizations are also making trips to Texas to help, including SAFE Pet Rescue and Paw Prints Pet Crematory.

    FUR will bring back animals who have been in the shelters before the storm to make room for strays coming in. FUR does not want to bring strays back and prevent them from being reunited with their families. The focus will continue to be rescuing animals from local shelters in Northeast Florida. FUR has rescued 25 dogs and cats per month for the past 21 months. Though that won't change, FUR said, this is an emergency situation, though, and it feels compelled to help.

    Monetary donations

    Those interested in donating financially can contact the Diocese of St. Augustine, which will take up a special collection to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses. 

    The collection will be held in all 61 parishes and missions of the diocese the weekend of Sept. 9-10.

    “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses along with their sense of peace and normalcy,” Bishop Felipe J. Estévez said. “We also stand with our brother bishops in the region who have the difficult task of providing pastoral care in these most trying times while also managing their own losses.”

    Funds given to the collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The hurricane has affected southeast Texas, including the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and could also strike Louisiana.

    “We are grateful to the first responders and countless volunteers who are assisting the Gulf Coast region in countless ways and keep them all in our thoughts and prayers,” Estévez said.

    For more information on how the community can participate, contact Catholic Charities at 904-899-5500 or email ahassell@ccbdosa.org. Or visit https://catholiccharitiesusa.org/.

    Monetary donations are also being accepted by the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the United Way of Greater Houston and other organizations.

    Beware of scams

    Attorney General Pam Bondi is asking Floridians who want to help to use caution when donating. Scammers will often use natural disasters to prey on the good intentions of others, but there are steps consumers can take to protect against charity-related scams, Bondi said. 

    “As Floridians, we know all too well the destruction a massive hurricane can cause and how vital charitable donations are in helping communities recover -- but before you give, please take steps to ensure your donation will be used to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, not a scammer exploiting the goodwill of Floridians,” Bondi said.

    Anyone wishing to donate can follow these tips to make sure gifts are used to help victims and Texas communities recover from Harvey:

    • Be proactive and donate to a reputable charity, rather than wait to be solicited.
    • When giving, consider donating to an established disaster-relief charity, such as RedCross.org.
    • Research a charity by using Charity Navigator and by contacting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to determine whether the charity is registered to solicit donations in Florida.
    • Avoid solicitors using high-pressure tactics or hesitant to provide more information about a charitable organization.
    • If donating online at a fundraising site, be sure to confirm the identity of the recipient and be careful when providing any personal contact information.
    • Contact the Attorney General’s Office at 866-9-NO-SCAM or call the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at 703-276-0100 to determine if there are any complaints against a charity. 

    For more information about charity scams and tips to avoid such scams, Bondi urges consumers to review the Attorney General’s Hurricane Preparedness Guide.

    Consumers who believe they have been a victim of a scam or other fraudulent activity may file a complaint by calling 866-9-NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com


    About the Authors: