Autumn Garcia made at least three stops Thursday, picking up enough donations to fill two SUVs. Garcia is a nurse at Hancock Medical. She started the disaster drive at her work place on Monday. Word spread and the entire Hancock County community eagerly pitched in.
"In just this little bit of time, we have all this, and it's crazy," she said, pointing to a garage loaded with donations. "And people are giving money and offering assistance and wanting to adopt families."
Garcia grew up in Fayette County, Alabama. She will deliver the supplies this weekend to the poor, tornado-ravaged community of Boley Springs, Alabama.
"All you hear on TV is Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa," said Garcia. "You never hear about the little communities that have no help. There is no water. They're sleeping under the stars. They have no clothes. They've lost family."
Garcia is making personal totes initially for 14 families.
"I'm giving them something they really, really want. This one is a lady that trains canines for the police department." Garcia said as she pointed to a pile of dog food and pet products. "All this woman asked for was stuff for her dogs, nothing for herself, just dogs."
Some families have elderly members or young children.
"And I have a young family. They have a 14-month-old baby, and the only thing they asked for was a place where their baby could sleep because they're on the ground," she said.
All the totes come with food and cleaning supplies. On Sunday, Garcia is planning a special surprise.
"I bought Mother's Day cards and Dunbar Village donated a bunch of vases, and we're going to fill the vases with flowers. On Sunday, we're going to go give the Mother's Days cards to maybe husbands, sons, so they can give their mothers," she said.
This nurse knows there are some hurts no medicine can help. So she's offering healing that comes from the heart.
"Just giving back. It's our turn," said Garcia.
Garcia plans to use money and gift cards to purchase supplies for at least 30 more families in Boley Springs. On Sunday, she will pass out hot dogs and drinks to the families before she heads home.
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