Hurricane relief supplies head to Texas

  • Reed Sandifer, 2, helps his father Denver and mother Jordan organize bins filled with items bound for Texas as part of the Hurricane Harvey disaster relief effort.

As the flooding in Texas and Louisiana caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey continues to wreak devastation, people in Barnwell County are trying to determine what they can do to best help the victims.

“The best way is to coordinate with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Golden Harvest or any of the sanctioned charities,” said Barnwell County Emergency Management Director Roger Riley. “That’s where my money is going to.”

To donate, go online to www.redcross.org. Other agencies can be located on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website at www.fema.gov.

“Donations of items are great but they really need to go through the proper channels,” he said.

One group that is working through a channel with a Texas church is the Sandifer family of Blackville who shipped a tractor trailer load of items on Monday, Sept. 4.

At the Phil Sandifer and Sons Farm outside of Blackville, large watermelon bins sit under a large shed. Each bin is marked with its contents – children’s diapers, adult diapers, soap, personal hygiene items, cereal, non-perishable food, and clothes. Some pallets hold cases and cases of bottled water.

At first the Sandifers planned to coordinate with Golden Harvest but that organization only handles food so a different shipment will be sent to them. A few phone calls put them in touch with the Church of Texas just west of Houston that is working with the Texas National Guard to help residents there, said Scotty Sandifer. “They have four warehouses set up and 600 volunteers to distribute these supplies,” he said.

“You don’t know what you have until you lose it,” said Phil and Kitty Sandifer’s nephew Denver Sandifer who is helping spearhead the effort. His wife Jordan’s sister was flooded out in Georgetown. “We learned a lot from that experience.”

Scotty Sandifer said the family realized they were in a lull time on the farm, had the facilities to be able to sort and palletize items, and had the connections and resources to get the items delivered to Texas. They had done it before – they sent four truckloads of items to Louisiana’s victims from Hurricane Katrina.

He said their produce sales team is paying for the freight to ship the items. “That’s the biggest cost is getting the truck to Texas.”

He expected to send 80 bins of supplies in this first shipment.

Future shipments depend on how fast they can get enough items to send a full container to Texas.

“The next donations need to be clean-up items,” said Sandifer. He said people can get buckets and fill them with a bottle of bleach, sponges, scrub brushes, gloves and other clean-up items. He said the clean-up kits need to have lids or shrink-wrapped to keep all the items encased for shipment.

Contributing to the Sandifer shipment are churches, businesses and individuals in Barnwell, Bamberg, Allendale and Hampton counties. “Everyone in the community has been very supportive of this effort,” he said.

In a Facebook post Jackie Sandier, Scotty’s mom, said, “We have just been heartbroken to see what our fellowmen in Texas are going through. We feel God has spoken to so many wonderful people who are willing to donate items these pitiful people need. God Bless everyone who has cared enough to send these needed items.”

To donate items, bring them to Phil Sandifer & Sons Farms, 1583 Mt. Zion Road, Blackville. The Sandifers can also be reached at their office at (803) 284-5111, Kitty Sandifer at (803) 793-7906, or Scotty Sandifer at (803) 383-1226.

Barnwell Chiropractic, 76 Irving Street, Barnwell has announced that it is an additional drop-off point for the Sandifer shipment. Donations may be dropped off Monday -Thursday between 8:30 a.m. and noon. Those needing other hours or who have questions may call 259-9412.

Brittany Lawson, 29, of Barnwell, is also asking for donation of special items to send with the Sandifers. “We are asking for items such as coloring books, crayons, puzzle books, flash cards, board games - anything that will help adults and children to pass the time while they are in shelters,” she said.

“I have three kids of my own (ages 7, 5 and 3) so this really hits close to home,” said Lawson.

Items may be dropped off at the Bi-Rite, 9056 Patterson Street, Barnwell.

Coaches helping out

A message sent from Coach Kelvin Sampson of the University of Houston basketball team to basketball coaches across the nation reached a coach at USC Salkehatchie in Allendale who is putting the request into action.

“Many coaches have asked me what they can do to help the people of Houston and I came up with this idea: for all men’s and women’s basketball programs at every level everywhere please send me 20 T-shirts and 10 pairs of shoes and we will distribute them to people in need in Houston. If you can’t send that much, send what you can,” said Sampson.

USC Salk’s head men’s basketball coach Jake Williams has taken him up on the request is packaging shirts to send.

“All of our hearts go out to those in need in these devastating times” said Sampson. “We will get these goods to agencies that will distribute them to the right people in need. God bless you all. Please continue to keep the people of Houston in your prayers,” he said.

Mail T-shirts and/or shoes to: Coach Kelvin Sampson, University of Houston Basketball, Guy V. Lewis Development Center, 3480 Cullen Blvd, Houston, Texas, 77204.