What happens when you combine the creative vision of a GoTriangle marketing guy, the reach of the United Way network, the powerhouse media outlets of WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting, and the generosity of the Triangle community? Within hours you surpass your original goal of filling one bus to help our neighbors impacted by Hurricane Matthew. . . then fill two additional buses and two vans brought in for support from RDU International Airport. It was incredible to see the response to the call to help communities in Johnston, Nash/Edgecombe, and Wilson counties. At a time when more seems to divide than connect us, the drive to fill the buses demonstrated the power of a caring community.
Riding the bus to make the deliveries the next day—we had to shift lots of paper towel packages to find seats—was a backbreaking but heartwarming experience.
First stop: Rocky Mount. Waiting for us at United Way of Tar River Region were staff, board members, and volunteers with a 53 ft. trailer in the parking lot of their building. Serving Nash and Edgecombe counties, they received canned/dried food, personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies for the many people whose homes have water damage. Representatives from the Princeville food pantry were on hand to take back a truckload of food to shore up their empty shelves. The delivery was on Thursday; by Monday hundreds of people had received items to help with their rebuilding.
Next stop: Wilson County—the most exciting arrival . . .by police escort! We pulled in to the parking lot of the Food Lion to see a line of cheering people. United Way of Wilson County received one bus full of food: nonperishable items, formula and nutritional drinks to support their local drive. Food pantries from around the county had vehicles on site and volunteers loaded items right onto the vans. Pantries had been depleted making it difficult to help feed those impacted by the hurricane and others who rely on this support. It was certainly an event. Even local politicians rolled up their sleeves to haul food into the vehicles!
Last stop: Johnston County at The Partnership for Children. Last but not least, this one is closest to our hearts here at United Way of the Greater Triangle because these are our partners we’ve worked with for many years. The Partnership for Children and Boys & Girls Club of Johnston County are in one of our collaborative partnerships, Great Futures, which also includes both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The Boys & Girls Club of Johnston County sustained significant damage when the building lost its roof. Mamie Moore, the executive director, has been with the Club since its inception and, even on a good day, worries about “her kids.”
There was no fanfare when we arrived in Selma, rather, the simple, poignant image of Mamie bursting into tears when she saw the bus filled with items. Generously, the Partnership agreed to receive canned/dried food, diapers and formula, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. And the staff pitched in (wearing, not t-shirts and jeans, but their professional attire) to unload the bus and van.
The supplies were handed out on Saturday to 44 families from Selma Elementary (many are Club members) that have been displaced, as well as to other individuals in need. The supplies took over the whole back room, and as Dwight Morris (ED of the Partnership) observed, “when a partner goes down, you stand with them.”
A great deal of standing together was demonstrated over these two days. A sincere thank you to everyone who contributed. We couldn’t have done it without you!