Hurricane Irma was a life-changing event for millions of people. The Category 5 storm tore through several Caribbean islands before making landfall in Florida and continuing on into Georgia and the Carolinas. More than 100 people lost their lives and so many more will spend the coming months and years trying to rebuild what was lost.
Yet in the misery of the storm, there were several lights. Groups came together from all across the United States, including those in affected areas, to volunteer, donate and give storm victims some hope. One of those groups went to work right here in Tucker.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a storehouse on North Royal Atlanta Drive. Typically a place where church volunteers help feed families in need, leaders with the church turned the facility into an emergency distribution center on September 13, packing and loading three trucks full of food and other supplies to send to Florida.
“When the call came in,” recounted Stephen Aboagye, Manager of North America Southeast Area Welfare Production and Distribution for the church, “they said we need a few people to help us to start it. We ended up having about over 200 people that showed up.”
Aboagye and his team oversaw scores of volunteers – young and old – packing boxes full of water, cereal and tuna fish. When all was said and done, 112,000 pounds of food and water were packed up and on their way to eight distribution centers across the state of Florida. While those boxes helped storm victims to survive the immediate aftermath, they were accompanied by a supply of chainsaws, brooms and other hardware items that could help residents to clear debris and get their homes back to being livable.
“It’s so amazing in Tucker,” Aboagye said. “The spirit of these volunteers is amazing. Most of them are members of the church, but some of them are not. [It] all comes with the spirit to bless people’s lives.”
With their hurricane response efforts complete, Aboagye and his team are shifting their focus back to the daily mission: providing groceries and household goods for down-on-their-luck families in Tucker and surrounding areas.
“We are here for the purpose to be a good neighbor,” he explained. “We love the people around us. We are willing to serve.”
If you know of a group in Tucker that is making a difference, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may share their story!