Valdosta community donates needed supplies to hurricane victims

Hurricane Donations Art and Soul

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - With the Valdosta area missing the grunt of Hurricane Michael, many people are coming together to help those in need in parts of Florida and Georgia.

One business is taking the lead to bring some relief to the victims of Hurricane Michael.

She says that she was inspired by the workers of her gym who had family in some of the smaller cities and counties of Georgia.

“In order to service the most people, they go to the biggest town first because they can get 300 people back up and running or they can get it hundreds of thousands of people back up and running now. So the focus immediately and understandably goes to those bigger towns so they can help more people faster," said Melissa Eikenberry.

Owner of Winnersville Fitness, Melissa Eikenberry, her team, and the Valdosta Community are working hard to help the victims in the small towns affected by hurricane Michael.

“We’ve had such an outpouring from our community. That’s why I love Valdosta so much. They just know how to pull together in a time of need.”

Gym members, gym employees, and community members came together to pack this stuff up to get it right to the people.

One of them was 16-year-old Lauren Bailey of Valdosta.

She came with her mom and they’re taking this stuff to Grand Ridge, FL.

“With us, here in Winnersville and here in Valdosta being able to do that, it just feels good to know that I can help others," said Bailey.

“We’re is the land of plenty. We have everything and all of a sudden they’re like a third world country right now," said Eikenberry.

They have collected water, food, hygiene products, and more to give to the victims of Hurricane Michael.

(Source: WALB)

“We just wanted to help those that were there. To see them needing water and having children that they are running out of diapers, my heart just goes out to the kids that are living in these conditions right now," said Eikenberry.

Eikenberry says they’re packing this stuff up with those small-town people in mind.

“They had a huge need in this town where they weren’t forgotten but they just hadn’t gotten to them yet. They’re of course focusing on the bigger picture in the bigger cities to start with and they needed food, they need water. None of them have power."

And she says that the work doesn’t stop here.

“We’re going to do this as long as there’s a need, as long as people are still giving," said Melissa Eikenberry.

Eikenberry says that they are going to continue until everyone is taken care of.

They have already taken supplies to Bascom, Florida, Marianna, Florida, Cottondale, Florida, and Bainbridge, Georgia.

Another business in Valdosta is making a sacrifice to bring relief to those affected by Hurricane Michael.

Art and Soul is a family owned store in Valdosta that sells art, furniture, and accessories and they are partnering with Synovus Bank to bring relief.

The owners are offering 10 percent off in the store purchases for anyone who brings in a donation.

We spoke to Angela Crance about why they are sacrificing some of their profit to help these victims.

“We have been praying nonstop for these victims. It’s so sad to see people lose so much. We just want to do our part to help them," said Crance.

Crance says that she thinks it is their duty to give back since the Valdosta area was not directly hit by the storm.

She shared that their partners at the bank are going to take these donations to Port Saint Joe, Florida this Saturday.

She says that they will continue accepting donations until then.

Community members give back

According to the Red Cross, many locations are not able to collect blood following hurricanes because the lack of power, resources, and people able to give.

After Hurricane Michael, one South Georgia city is doing all they can to combat to the blood supply shortage in the area.

The City of Valdosta partnered with the Valdosta Fire Department and the Red Cross for a blood drive.

WALB spoke with one of the donors who talked about the process of donating.

“Easy. Ten minutes and you’re done, and you get a juice and a cookie," said Jennifer Mashburn.

Mashburn has given blood multiple times and says that it is her way of helping and giving back to the community.

She says she especially wants to help the victims of Hurricane Michael and that giving back just makes her feel good.

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