[COCONUT CREEK] – Food For The Poor is collecting essential goods to help families affected by St. Vincent volcano La Soufrière, which spewed ash and hot gas early Tuesday in the latest eruption since volcanic activity began late last week.
Goods can be dropped off at the charity’s Coconut Creek warehouse, 6401 Lyons Road, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Masks and social distancing are required.
Items that will be accepted include: personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, deodorant and soap, cleaning supplies such as brooms, mops, buckets and shovels, baby supplies including diapers and wipes, sleeping cots or mats, pressure washers, respirator masks with filters, goggles and reflective vests.
For more information, please go to www.foodforthepoor.org/vincentrelief.
Donors also can provide relief items via Food For The Poor’s Amazon list: www.foodforthepoor.org/emergencysupplies.
Relief Kits Donated
The charity is airfreighting disaster relief kits to St. Lucia, and partners will deliver the goods to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The kits were redirected to St. Lucia after extreme ash closed the Barbados airport.
The kits contain disaster blankets, disaster hygiene kits and children’s activity kits to support the children affected by the volcanic eruption. The goods were provided by Matthew 25: Ministries, MAP International and Midwest Mission Distribution Center.
“We’re very grateful. We’re getting message after message from persons who want to help which is wonderful,” said Fr. Kevin Murray, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kingstown.
Long Term Devastation
“But this is not going to be over any time soon,” Fr. Murray added. “This devastation is real and it’s going to be a long haul. People are going to be in shelters for a while. Some people will be able to move back, some won’t.”
Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine said the ability to quickly get aid to families in St. Vincent would not be possible without the support of the charity’s donors and partners.
“We’re in constant contact with our partners on the ground who are telling us of their needs,” Raine said. “As we begin a collection drive locally, the items donated by the community will go a long way to help families who have evacuated, and in many cases, may have lost everything.”
As many as 16,000 people have fled their communities to escape the ash, according to news reports and in-country partners.
About 4,000 are in shelters and the rest are staying with family or friends, or evacuating to nearby islands. Power and water outages have been reported across the island of St. Vincent, with the government distributing water by trucks.
Fr. Murray, who has visited with residents in shelters, said he met a parishioner from Sandy Bay over the weekend who grows arrowroot, which he intended to harvest Monday and take to a factory for processing. But the factory was destroyed by the eruption.
“They finally had everything they needed and were supposed to harvest on Monday but they’re no longer going to be able to do that,” Fr. Murray said. “I could see the anguish on the face of the farmer.”
FFTP is sending funds to buy food in Barbados, which is expected to receive evacuees. Barbados is working with its coast guard to send food to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgetown will be responsible for distribution of aid to St. Vincent.
Shelters in St. Lucia
St. Lucia also is setting up shelters in case more evacuees need a safe place to go. On Monday, the National Emergency Management Organisation received food from Food For The Poor through partner Archbishop’s House to help St. Vincent and the Grenadines families who evacuated to St. Lucia. Items included 12 pallets of MannaPack meals from Feed My Starving Children, 35 bags of black beans, 20 bags of cornmeal, 30 cases of vegetarian beans, 20 cases of sausages, 30 cases of pork and beans and three bags of rice.
Aid to Barbados
Trinidad and Tobago, through FFTP partner Foundation for the Enhancement and Enrichment of Life (FEEL), are sending disaster blankets and hand sanitizer via its coast guard to Barbados to assist.
Bishop Gerard County, of the Diocese of Kingstown, thanked Food For The Poor for reaching out immediately, asking how the charity could help.
“All of the assistance has been very encouraging,” said Bishop County. “But we don’t know how long this situation will continue. As time goes, we may really see the trauma and what the real needs are. We need the help.”
How to Donate
To make a cash donation for families in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, please go to www.foodforthepoor.org/vincent, or call 1-800-427-9104.