GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A group dedicated to rescuing and serving those in need, is collecting donations for a town devastated by Hurricane Michael. Gulf Coast Search and Rescue is hoping to bring some peace to the residents of Springfield, Florida.
“We wanted to help other people like we were helped during Hurricane Katrina,” said Heather Jennings.
Crews from Gulf Coast Search and Rescue set up camp at American Car Center on U.S. 49 on Saturday and Sunday collecting donations for Springfield, Florida, a town battered by Hurricane Michael.
“The vice president, Chris Jennings, contacted the fire chief in Panama City and asked if there was any help that was needed,” she said. “He told him they were good, did not need any assistance, but recommended that they contact the police chief in Springfield, Florida, because they lost their police department, their fire department and their city hall.”
According to Jennings, Springfield was flying under the radar as help was being given to other towns.
"They were not getting the exposure that other places around them were getting so they were not getting as much assistance," she said.
The team took in donations throughout the weekend, then began building hurricane bags to be handed out next in Springfield. They say after a disaster like Michael, anything helps turn your day around.
“I remember after Katrina I got $20 at the Walmart pharmacy and it just made my day,” said Claire Sluyterman Van Loo. “And so we’re here trying to put together whatever we can to give to the people.”
For Jennings, it's about paying it forward.
“It makes me feel really good to be able to help other people that really need it,” she said. “So many people came here after Hurricane Katrina and helped. I was a teacher during the time, and we got so many things from people, just a lot of help.”
And being able to help a town like Springfield after losing everything is something these public servants are thrilled to do.
If you’d like to donate to the Springfield campaign, you can contact Chris Jennings via the Gulf Coast Search and Rescue Facebook page.
The deadline for donations is Thursday, and a group will leave for Springfield on Friday.