Several groups in the community came together to help a neighboring state as they recover from the natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey.
Some projects are still on-going and organizers said they plan to leave out this weekend, while others are back from trip one and planning a second trip.
Volunteer Nikki Carter loads water in the back of Dwight Johnson’s truck. Johnson was one of many members of the Ashley County community who donated items to the #iHelped cause. Shronda Thrower-Rodgers, creator of #Ihelped, organized the donations and secured drivers to see that the items made it to Houston as planned. Below, volunteers working with Rodgers load the U-Haul at one of Rodgers’ planned pick up points. (SUBMITTED/News Observer)
One of the faces behind the local relief efforts is Shronda Thrower-Rogers. Rodgers is a native of Ashley County and a 1996 graduate of Crossett High School. She said she has lived in Houston for the past 21 years.
Rodgers was on vacation in Miami when the storm hit and — because of canceled flights and delays — was unable to return to Houston.
“After much despair and a lot of prayers, I decided to go home to my hometown of Crossett to be with my family,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said the situation inspired her to make a difference from a far.
“I begin to post requests on Facebook and partnered with Crossett residents, Doris Murphy, Darlene Thrower and India Holt to see what we could do to help,” she said.
Rodgers is calling her efforts “Giving Hope and Love.”
Saturday, they loaded a U-Haul at Le’Sha Designs in North Crossett, and left Tuesday morning Texas bound. Rodgers is currently working to fill a 54-foot 18-wheeler trailer that is scheduled to leave Sunday, Sept. 10.
In addition to filling trucks packed with supplies donated by community members and local businesses, Rodgers also started a t-shirt fundraiser called #ihelped. She is working with community members and local businesses and all T-shirt proceeds will go toward Houston relief efforts.
Sisters Kymara Hill Seals and Kenetta Hill Ridgell are residents of Pine Bluff, but are natives of Hamburg. They worked with Ashley County residents, Janice Rucker, Janice Williamson and Bridget Lewis to fill their own U-Haul full of water, tissue, baby diapers, clothes, shoes and other non-perishable items.
The Hill sisters loaded their U-Haul in Pine Bluff but made a stop in Hamburg Friday to finish filling the trucks. They delivered their donations Sunday to the Ambassadors For Christ Distribution Center.
Seals said she was nine when the tornadoes that devastated Hamburg hit Ashley County.
“I remember my mom waking me up and telling me the Red Cross had made it to town, and we had to get to work,” Seals said. “I have been engaged in serving since then.”
Brandi Hill, a Crossett resident, has also been putting together a relief effort.
Hill said she is working with volunteers and local churches to get items to Houston.