Community efforts under way to support hurricane victims

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,
The Yazoo community understands the importance of relief efforts following a natural disaster. 
Having experienced the same aftermath following the destructive tornado of 2010, several groups are organizing a number of relief efforts to the victims of the recent Hurricane Harvey. 
Operation Helping Hand has been established by a group of volunteers at the former Greenthumbs location on Fifteenth Street. The group is collecting supplies and plans to send several truckloads to hurricane victims in areas that need it most.
“When we first started our minds were on those affected by Harvey, but with Hurricane Irma apparently headed toward Florida, we don’t know for sure if these trucks will be headed east or west. We just want to make sure that we help as many people as we can.”
JF Oakes Sales and Marketing has allowed the volunteer group to use the former Greenthumbs building for its headquarters. Total Transportation Trucking of Mississippi is contributing trucks to transport the donated items. Southland Container has donated packing materials.
In addition to donations, volunteers are needed to help accept and sort donations at the Fifteenth Street headquarters. Anyone interested in helping is encouraged to visit. Items needed include water, toiletries, cleaning supplies, canned goods and dry goods, diapers and other baby items, pet food, paper products, first aid supplies, and personal items for men and women. No clothing is needed at this time.
The Flora community has also gotten behind the effort. Donations can be made at Ramey’s, Runnells Insurance and Tri-County Academy that will be brought to Yazoo City for transport.
Casey Holcomb, director of the Flora Area Chamber of Commerce, arrived Thursday afternoon with a pickup truck loaded with donated items. 
From donations to many citizens personally visiting the Texas area, Yazoo is showing its support following the deadly disaster. 
COURTNEY
 GRANDERSON
One resident, Courtney Granderson, asked for donations that he personally delivered to Texas last week. 
“My first thoughts were to just buy items and take them myself,” Granderson said. “After getting feedback from people who wanted to assist, two businesses, Bow Ties and TuTus and WYAD Radio Station, extended working hours accepting donations. Yazoo County natives were tremendous with this donating effort.”
Granderson also received funds from employees at Ribeye’s, Ronald Green from California, G. Rucker from Illinois, Scott Miller of CF Industries.
Granderson said Marie Jackson was also instrumental in donations of food and diapers. 
“My wife and I donated over $400 in diapers, wet wipes and toiletries,” Granderson said. “We traveled round trip 1,176 miles on Thursday, using our work vacation time. We did it for those in need. It was them this time, but it could very well be us next time.”
Granderson said eight bags of clothes, three totes of clothes donated by Valerie Hucks, about $1,200 in diapers, water, wipes, baby food, toiletries and personal hygiene items were donated. 
Benton 
Academy
Benton Academy’s National Honor Society is also collecting money or donations for flood buckets. 
All items are to be dropped off at Benton Academy by Sept. 13. With Benton Farm Supply donating buckets,  the United Methodist Committee On Relief will be distributing the donations. 
BA is requesting: liquid laundry detergent, liquid household cleaner, dish soap, packs of 50 or more clothes pins, clothes line, cans of air freshener, insect repellent spray,  pairs of kitchen dish washing gloves, pairs of work gloves, scouring pads, scrub brushes and dust masks.
MANCHESTER
ACADEMY
Manchester Academy instructor Melissa Gooch said the local school is also collecting donations through its third grade class. 
“Both of the third classes at MA launched a giving project to benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey called #HELPINGHARVEY,” she said. “The project was two fold, and each project was successful due to the support of our MA families. The #helpingharvey plan included ‘Fill it up MA’ and ‘Operation BBQ Relief.’”
Operation BBQ Relief was proposed by third grader Ellie Scott, the daughter of Heath and Leslie Scott. 
“We raised over $300 to donate to the organization, which helps feed the victims of natural disasters such as Harvey,” Gooch said. 
“Fill it up MA” was a project geared to fill a trailer donated by Michelle Manor of Newsom Trucking.  Those donations include: bottled water, Gatorade, non-perishable food, diapers, hand sanitizer, comfort kits (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste), new blankets, pillows and towels.
“We were so excited by the show of support from our school and community,” Gooch said. “The trailer was not completely filled. However, we did completely fill 11 six-foot tables with donated items.”
The school delivered the items to Miller Transport in Jackson. The transport company will be left on Sept. 8 to take all donations to Texas.
“I am so thankful for the support and help of the community and especially for the lesson in giving for our third-grade classes,” Gooch said. 
OPERATION 
BBQ RELIEF
Ubons Restaurant has also contributed to relief efforts through Operation BBQ Relief.
"For years the Ubons family has supported Operation BBQ relief through volunteering, food collection, and fund raising,” said Leslie Scott. “Last year with the support of Yazooans we were able to send a trailer full of goods and another of water needed to feed people affected by flooding in the Hammond area. So far we have collected $1,500 that will go straight to feeding people. OBR is strictly staffed with volunteers.”
Scott said, as of now, OBR has fed 300,000 people in its first week. OBR will be deploying to areas affected by Hurricane Irma when needed. 
“We are collecting cash and checks at Ubons,” Scott added. “We also encourage you to text OBR to 41444 or visit www.operationbbqrelief.org/donate.”
"We support and encourage support of a group of friends from all over the country including Mississippi called Operation BBQ Relief,” said Elaine Roark. “They head out at the first word of a disaster, set up and cook BBQ for first responders and any people in need.” We can't go but we can give. We raise money for them all year long.”