Over the last four months, we have delivered aid to thousands of St. Croix residents. We solicited donations, we placed orders, we packed shipping containers, we cleared shipments through Customs, we set up distribution sites, we bagged goods and we handed out those goods. And we did it all because of a dedicated group of volunteers that grows by the hour. Some come for an hour, some for the whole day, some lent their strength, others their administrative skills and connections. Some came just once, and others come every day. But they all come with passion, enthusiasm and a desire to serve. Their contribution has been nothing short of inspirational.
That level of commitment was on full display on Jan. 13, when about 30 volunteers showed up to prepare the St. George Village Botanical Garden, and to sort and organize the three containers worth of donated goods for our next distribution. They didn’t just bring their muscles and their energy, they brought passion and enthusiasm and it was contagious. Even several hours into manual labor in the heat of the sun, they still had smiles on their faces and were ready to flash the VI sign for pride.
While there are way too many to name, we’re talking hundreds of people who have lent a hand – A few standouts include Kyle Lajoie, Max Brabell, Kareema Edgar, Sharmaine Williams-Stapleton, Emily Robinson, Pastor Jeff and the whole Foundation Ministries team, Richie’s Trucking and team. Kyle Lajoie in particular has been going non-stop since Hurricane Irma hit – being among the first to deliver aid and rescue evacuees on St. Thomas and St. John. He has been coordinating the boots on the ground since Cane Bay Cares began doing distributions. There have also been many people assisting behind the scenes, including Sanni Craft, Melanie Clark, Susan Carter, Janella Simon and Stephanie Hanlon – dealing with ordering, shipping logistics, budgeting, invoicing, marketing and public relations. And the men of the hour, the founders of this effort – David Johnson and Kirk Chewning – have not only matched all donations up to the $200,000 match, they have made countless in-kind donations and have volunteered their time and energy to this effort.
None of these people hesitated for even a second to step up and help. They saw a need, saw an effort stepping up and did all they could to help. It has been a humbling experience for us all.
We’ll end with a note we sent to our volunteers in an email yesterday: “And, finally – Thank you! We couldn’t do what we’re doing without you. The dedication, passion, enthusiasm and selflessness that we have seen from our volunteers has been nothing short of inspirational. This Saturday, we will have both veteran and rookie volunteers giving up part of their day to serve the St. Croix community – and we just want you to know that we see you, we appreciate you and we value you – and so does your community. #VIStrong”