ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – On Sunday, September 3rd, donors and supporters gathered to send the first of five semi-trailer trucks filled with toiletries, diapers, pet food/supplies, nonperishable human food, water and more as part of a grassroots drive called “I-4 to Texas.” The event organizer and Florida National News contributor, Randy Ross, said, “This truly was a community movement to help the victims of the hurricane. This could just as easily have been Florida. We had donations driven in from Orange, Lake and Polk counties [in addition to] people from all over the State. It was refreshing to see Americans helping each other. ”
Chris Comins, a Belle Isle resident who funded the donation item transportation along with his girlfriend Ashley Morgan noted, “It’s great to see us come together as Americans putting aside our political differences. No matter your socioeconomic status or race or gender…seeing everyone come together warms my heart and makes me proud to be an American.” This is not Comins’ first generous offering to the community. As previously reported, Comins rebuilt the City of Belle Isle Police Department and is in the early stages of building a special needs park in Orange County’s Warren Park.
Over 20,000 pounds of pet food and supplies were collected. The Animal Medical Clinic of Orlando began an internal donation drive early in the week with so many pet supplies and food they needed a large box truck to deliver them. Organizers arrived with over 20 of their staff and volunteers at Belle Isle City Hall. Animal activist Ashley Morgan spoke to the outpouring of support for pets, especially for horses, “I am so happy we are part of this. Not only did you pull together to help people, but also dogs and cats, and cows and chickens and horses. Thank you so much.” Morgan also donated over 200 pounds of horse feed to the cause.
Cheryl Hall organized the Lake County effort. “This experience was very overwhelming and touched my heart like nothing else. This is about and should be about people helping people. I’ve never experienced a community coming behind an event like they did. It was a blessing.”
Students from all over, who received much needed community service hours, came out to learn the value of hard work and volunteerism. Four Boone High School students showed up multiple days to help in the community effort.
While 1 of 5 semi-trucks is on the road to Houston, the balance of trucks, along with volunteers from Orange and Lake Counties, will depart for Houston on Tuesday. Ross shared, “We aligned with AmeriCorps as our delivery partner as we wanted to ensure the donations received would go directly into the hands of the people who needed them most. When we arrive in Houston on Wednesday, we will meet up with AmeriCorps and The American Red Cross to begin our distribution process.”
What started as a few bottles of water and a box of diapers at 8AM on Wednesday morphed into the following estimations on the five-tractor trailers in five days.Here’s the breakdown of what was received and his headed to Houston:
-Over 20,000 pounds of pet food and supplies. (including dog, cat, bird and horse)
-Over 75 pallets of water and Gatorade
-2,500 boxes of diapers and baby wipes
-6,000 pounds of nonperishable human food
-56 pallets of paper towels and toilet paper
-600 earphones valued at nearly $18,000.00
-3,000 blankets from a local resort
-25,000 individual toiletry items including toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, feminine products, deodorant, shampoos, hand sanitizers, first aid supplies and other hygiene items
The relief effort flier went viral and has been shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook.
The original donation estimate was $250,000.00 and now nears $300,000.00
The kickoff event concluded with Burma Davis Posey recognizing President Trump’s National Day of Prayer. All prayed. “I am so glad we recognized President Trump’s call for a National Day of Prayer. It’s going to take months, maybe years, for some to rebuild their lives,” Posey said. “This is a reminder of what made America great in the first place. By standing together and leaning on Gods wisdom we will save our beloved America. That continues to be my prayer each day.”
Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke remarked, “This is just a great outpouring of support. I sure wish we could share this support and love 365 days a year. Imagine how much better our world would be?” Belle Isle Commissioner Bobby Lance added, “I couldn’t be more proud of how the residents of our community have come together.”
FNN News contributor Randy Ross will report live from Houston for Florida National News and provide feedback as to “I-4 to Houston” disaster relief delivery as well as the conditions in Houston overall.