Staff Report For The Island Eye News
In response to the death and destruction Hurricane Irma inflicted on the U.S. Virgin Islands, a small, dedicated group of Lowcountry volunteers has banded together to form “LowcountryLOVEforVI,” a grassroots charity effort devoted to collecting and delivering much-needed supplies to residents of the islands victimized by the storm.
When it ripped through the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVIs) of St. Thomas and St. John, Hurricane Irma was still a category five hurricane touting wind speeds exceeding 185 m.p.h. And, while the damage state-side from the storm was severe, what USVI residents endured was devastating.
“We are a local team of volunteers who love the Virgin Islands and want to do all we can to help our friends and families that have been left with nothing,” says campaign co-manager Andi Cummings.
“We are working directly with a non-profit organization in St. Croix to get relief to those in need from our islands here in the Lowcountry to theirs.”
“People are homeless, scared and living in shelters. Our collection efforts are dedicated to one mission: to get them what they need to simply survive,” continues Cummings. “As a coastal community ourselves, we feel a certain responsibility to jump right in and help others who have been devastated by natural disasters. We’ve been there. We know what it takes to rebuild and now we want to do whatever we can to help the Virgin Islands in that effort.”
The goal of the upstart organization is to amass, organize and deliver supplies that residents of the islands desperately need. The team, made up exclusively of volunteers, plans to accomplish a goal of raising both goods donated by local residents, along with online donations of $15,000, which they will use to purchase additional dry goods. They hope to accumulate all donated items and fill a 40-foot shipping container with much needed supplies like batteries, diapers and even power generators. Once full, the container will be driven to port and shipped directly to the islands for local distribution.
The campaign is a collaborative effort between local individuals, civic groups, businesses, and others. BoomTown, a real estate software company, is serving as the headquarters for the event, but they are by no means alone in its support.
Even at this early stage, more than 30 Lowcountry organizations have already pledged support or signed on to assist in the campaign.
The fundraising effort has three components, “donation stations,” set up at partnering businesses where area residents can drop off dry goods, a GoFundMe page where supporters can make an in-kind donation for the procurement of additional bulk goods, and an end-ofcampaign fundraising event that will be a primary contributor the group’s goals of raising $15,000.
“In addition to collection efforts, we are hosting an event on Oct. 8 at CURE on James Island,” adds fellow campaign co-manager Claire Young. “We will be hosting a family-friendly Caribbeanstyle event, as well as a silent auction, live music, and food and drinks for $20 per ticket, plus a donation item.”
LowcountryLOVEforVI is a Charleston based, grassroots effort partnering with Project St. Croix, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Christiansted, St. Croix USVI.