It all started with a Facebook post. Three days later, the post and the idea behind it had gone viral.
Madison Fire Department has collected literally tons of supplies — everything from water to kitty litter — that three firefighters will drive down to Texas to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Lt. David “Moon” Brooks brought up the idea at a meeting with his colleagues. He said while laying in bed and looking at all social media posts about the hurricane’s devastation, he just knew he had to do something.
Since they kicked off the event by posting on Facebook, all he and the Madison Fire Department have felt is massive support from around the metro-east.
“At first, we were worried we weren’t even going to fill the trailer,” Captain Michael Reeter said. “Now I’m glad there’s three of us going so we can drive all the trucks we have to take.”
The fire department has completely filled a 32-foot-long and 12-foot-high trailer with clothes, toothpaste, food and tons of other supplies. There’s even more donations in the station’s garage — an entire row of bottled water on pallets, just to start — and in the conference room where city hall workers and other volunteers organize piles.
“It started as a local thing, and it just went viral. And here we are today with a lot of stuff and two trucks donated,” Chief David Klee said.
As of Friday afternoon, Madison fire station had collected three trucks and two trailers filled with supplies. The donations came from all over — schools, police departments and individuals from Granite City, Pontoon Beach, Madison, and even areas in St. Clair County like O’Fallon and Lebanon.
“With all the nonsense and craziness in the world and the nation divided like it is, you gotta do the right thing here,” Reeter said.
Reeter, Brooks and Michael Scannell will take the supplies to Rockport, Texas, outside of Houston early Saturday morning. They had planned to leave Friday afternoon, but since donations continue to get dropped off, they may not leave until 4 a.m.
Reeter said they were also planning to stay just for the weekend but now might not come back until Friday.
So many companies and organizations in the area have donated, Brooks said he couldn’t even name them all. One trucking company, Penske in Lebanon, even gave them more vehicles to use to carry supplies.
“The mayor and city hall were just immediately on board and said they would do anything they could to help,” Reeter said.
Mayor John Hamm said everyone in the area has been jumping to help the cause.
“You just have to watch the TV for ten minutes to know there’s a need,” he said. “As a mayor, I know I would never want that to happen here.”
As flood waters continue to claim homes and lives in Texas, Hurricane Harvey has left the nation wondering what they can do to help. Here are some other local organizations and people you can look to for ideas:
Canceled blood drives in Texas has left the Red Cross down about 1,000 donations, public relations director Kirby Winn said. Donor relations director Amanda Hess called the need “urgent.”
Throughout the weekend, the Red Cross will host blood drives in Belleville and Fairview Heights.
On Friday, the drives will take place at the St. Clair County Building at 10 Public Square in Belleville from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at the Fairview Heights Blood Donation Center at 10886 Lincoln Trail from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Saturday and Sunday, the blood drive at Fairview Heights Blood Donation Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The center will also be open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. For more information on blood drive locations, visit the Red Cross website.
The St. Louis chapter of the Red Cross continues to seek volunteers to help collect and load supplies or to go to Houston to help with Hurricane Harvey efforts.
To apply, visit the St. Louis Red Cross website.
Volunteers like Robert Whitlow, of Belleville, who headed to Texas with the Red Cross on Aug. 25, will help out in shelters and provide supplies to storm victims.
Donate money but not clothes
Monetary donations can be sent to the Red Cross by visiting the Red Cross website, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Clothing donations are less useful for storm victims than other items, like medical supplies, hygiene items and toilet paper.
Market Center IGA in New Baden is also collecting much-needed supplies for hurricane victims in Texas as part of the group “Stock the Trailer for Texas.”
Donations may be dropped off in the trailers Thursday at:
▪ Stock Transport, 10037 Faust Road, Lebanon
▪ Tom’s Supermarket, 95 Mascoutah Plaza Drive, Mascoutah
▪ Tom’s Supermarket, 369 Marketplace Drive, Freeburg IL 62243
▪ IGA, 450 W. Hanover St., New Baden
▪ Strano, 1910 Carlyle Ave., Belleville