Local group aids Texas storm victims

Becky Vargo • Aug 30, 2017 at 12:00 PM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Thousands of hygiene kits have already been shipped to the Texas Gulf Coast by International Aid, and volunteers are being sought to assemble more.

The hygiene-packing event is set for Thursday, from 10 a.m. to noon and 1-3 p.m., at International Aid, 17011 Hickory St. in Spring Lake Township.

IA Director of Communications Operations Loyd Jenkins said that 130 people are needed for each packing shift. Volunteers should just show up for either time slot.

Jenkins said the organization works year-round to keep supplies ready for disasters. The supplies that were already shipped had been stored with a partner agency in Alabama. The idea is to get the supplies out the door within 24 hours of an event, Jenkins said.

It’s those “boots on the ground” partners who are keeping International Aid informed as to what is needed at each stage of a disaster, Jenkins said.

Hygiene kits and clean-up products are important in the early stages because of contaminations in the floodwaters.

“Being in water like this can cause all kinds of health risks like tetanus, MRSA (an antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria) and even flesh-eating pathogens,” Jenkins explained.

International Aid has also shipped 16 pallets of hand soap, eight pallets of antibacterial liquid soap, two pallets of paper products and a variety of cleaning tools such as mops, ringers and buckets. 

Jenkins said they are currently working with larger donors to obtain requested items like Power Aide, water and nutritional supplements.

The best thing people can do locally to help storm victims is to make a donation of money. This can be done on IA’s website (www.give2ia.org), or by dropping off or mailing a check to the Hickory Street facility, 17011 Hickory St., Spring Lake, MI 49456. Anyone dropping off or sending a check should note that it is for disaster relief.

Physical donations being accepted include:

• Personal care and toiletry items: toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, diapers, baby wipes and baby powder.

• Clean-up supplies: work gloves, mops, buckets, heavy-duty trash bags, tarps and coolers.

• Bedding: blankets, sheets, pillows and pillow cases (must be new and unused).

• Animal food: cat and dog food.

IA does not take open, expired or refrigerated food; produce; prescription medicines; clothing; or used or open personal care items and toiletries.

Jenkins said people can continue to monitor the International Aid website (www.internationalaid.org/hurricane-harvey/) for changes in the list of needs specific to the Texas storm.

He said there are different stages within a disaster: search and rescue, provision of basic needs, cleanup, and rebuilding.

“Recovery takes a long time,” Jenkins said.

International Aid operates partially as a frontline against disease.

“That’s why we focus a lot on personal care items,” Jenkins said.

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