The parking lot of the Oconee County Jail was jammed Thursday after people responded in a big way to a call for supplies for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
“We’ve got one trailer full. We’ve filled up a box truck and we have another trailer on the way,” Sheriff Scott Berry said Thursday afternoon.
“It’s just Oconee County. This is the thing we do. They want to be involved and help people less fortunate. I’m pleased. I’m thrilled, but I’m truly not surprised,” he said.
Berry said he was familiar with such catastrophes, having personally gone to help in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
Berry and Chief Deputy Lee Weems kickstarted the donation effort and recruited the assistance of LAD Truck Lines of Watkinsville to transport the donations to Texas. Enough money was raised to pay for the transportation costs.
But LAD General Manager Dutch Guest said the company planned to transport the donations whether or not the expenses were covered.
“Our community has been gracious enough to cover the expenses for our driver to get down there. There will probably be more than one truck judging by this,” Guest said as donations poured in.
People brought not only food and water, but pet food, paper products and sanitary supplies. Many of those contributing to the effort had a connection to Texas.
“My mom has leukemia and has been treated at M.D. Anderson for the last seven years, so Houston and the medical community there have a place in our hearts,” said Sarah Bennett, who lives on the Oconee-Walton county line. “I figured this was a quick, easy and efficient way to help.”
“My dad was in the army and we were stationed in San Antonio and my brother went to Texas A&M. Texas is a big part of my family’s history and we felt compelled to help. This is phenomenal. We were going to donate on line until I saw this,” said Melissa Chafin of Bogart.
“I have some good friends (in Houston) who lost their house, their cars and pretty much everything in the house,” said Kendra Leffingwell of Statham. “I can’t really do anything directly for them. They’re OK, but this is a way to help out.”