A truck full of essentials is on its way to Hurricane Sandy victims, thanks to a team of Buffalo Grove volunteers.
For the past week, Buffalo Grove resident Maureen "Mo" Welborn has been filling her home with donations to benefit the storm victims. When she and her daughter, Kara Welborn, shared their efforts with friends and family, contributions of food, bottled water, blankets and clothes immediately began to flow in.
“We threw it out on Facebook and before I knew it, I had people dropping things off all hours of the day and night,” Mo Welborn said. “I’m just overwhelmed by the turnout.”
Welborn’s role was part of a larger effort led by Michelle Tatela, another volunteer who felt the need to take action. The two women met last year when Welborn learned through a mutual Facebook friend about Tatela’s efforts to assist the victims of the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo.
Tatela, a Chicago native who currently works as a nurse in Wisconsin, is a volunteer leader of Bring Hanah Home, a non-profit organization that was established following the Joplin tornado. She said she simply feels compelled to help others when disasters strike.
“It makes you appreciate what you have when you see how easily it can be taken away,” she said.
Last year, the Welborns collected Christmas donations for Joplin residents. The effort was part of Tatela's second relief effort following the tornado.
With Bring Home Hanah leaders again handling the transportation arrangements, the Welborns offered their home as a suburban drop-off place days after Hurricane Sandy struck.
Between Monday and Thursday, about 50 people stopped by her home to drop off donations, Mo Welborn said. Before the time came to load the truck, the donations had taken over her living room and her garage.
“We’ve got food, we’ve got dog food, we’ve got cat food, we’ve got water,” she said.
“We have cases that people dropped off of Pedialyte. Cases,” Kara Welborn added.
Additional donations of goods and money came from friends, neighbors and other people who heard of the effort through Facebook.
Buffalo Grove’s Coldwell Banker office collected many of the donations that filled her garage, Mo Welborn said. Local children also chipped in. The Buffalo Grove Park District's Clubhouse participants sent a pile of homemade cards carrying well wishes for the hurricane victims.
The donations were packed into a rental truck Thursday night. Volunteers will drive that U-Haul, as well as three other trucks, to the East Coast this weekend. Tatela said the donations will be delivered to Staten Island and Rockaway.
Monetary donations from the public will help cover the cost of renting trucks and driving them to New York.
Donations can be made via PayPal through the “ChipIn” link on the Hurricane Sandy Humanitarian Relief Run Facebook page.
Once travel expenses are covered, contributions will be used to directly benefit hurricane victims, Tatela said. She said she might use the money to purchase gas for generators or gift cards to home improvement stores.
Tatela said she hopes the efforts will inspire other citizens to take action to help others when future needs arise.
“Unless people do something like this, it doesn’t happen,” she said. “I don’t care how many miles away — these are our neighbors and we need to help them.”
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