In a word, that’s how organizers of a cash and supply drive to benefit Texas victims of Hurricane Harvey felt Friday as they surveyed the thousands of items given by Hays-area residents who were eager to help.
“I’m at a loss of words,” said Paige Fischer, who helped her family organize a supply drive at Golden Plains Trucking in Hays last week. “I didn’t think we’d have this much.”
Supplies were collected from area residents and businesses from Tuesday to Friday, and they even had to upsize to a larger trailer to haul all the provisions to the San Antonio Food Bank, which serves southeast Texas.
The Texas non-profit is in emergency response mode to assist Texas residents who were affected by the hurricane, which directly hit some Gulf Coast communities and caused extreme flooding in the Houston area.
Gale Karlin is safety director at the Hays-based trucking service, and the project started when her son, Dalton Fischer, offered to volunteer his time to drive a truckload of goods to San Antonio this weekend. He called the food bank early last week to make arrangements and get a precise list of needed items.
Fischer is an owner/operator at Golden Plains Trucking, and he left early Saturday morning with his own truck. The trailer was donated by TSB Storage.
His sisters, Paige Fischer and Amanda Bird, were quick to help spread word about the supply drive and have been working this week to organize and pack supplies.
The family has relatives in Houston and couldn’t stand not helping after seeing frequent news coverage of the natural disaster, they said.
Many locals were quick to help however they could, with many businesses donating supplies in bulk or offering to volunteer. Supplies came from throughout northwest Kansas. In Norton, three residents organized a baby supply drive, then brought an entire pallet of supplies — 8,500 diapers and 7,000 wipes — to the Hays trucking company.
Approximately $2,000 in cash also was contributed, allowing organizers to purchase supplies that still are in high demand at the food bank.
Paige Fischer said it has been touching to watch the reactions of local residents who stopped by to donate supplies.
“They didn’t think we’d have this much. They say, ‘Oh, I didn’t bring very much,’ ” she said. “The reality is it takes all of us to make a pallet full.”
Across town, another Hays business was busy collecting supplies last week. Dr. Matt Shaffer of Heartland Dermatology also is traveling to Texas this weekend with a U-Haul full of goods to benefit the United Way in Dallas.
Shaffer also has family in the Houston area and decided to organize a supply drive involving the clinic’s three practices in Hays, Great Bend and Salina.
“After you see the news over and over, we all think we could do more,” Shaffer said. “I just decided it was time.”
His office also obtained a list of needed items and collected supplies in Hays on Thursday. Additional supply drives were planned at the other two clinics, as well as the Salina Target and a Salina church.
Several Hays businesses also made large donations to the effort, including a local veterinarian who contributed several hundred pounds of dog food. Shaffer had hoped to get the U-Haul at least 10 percent full from the supply drive in Hays, and was well on the way to realizing that goal.
“By Sunday, the goal is to get it filled up,” Shaffer said. “Hopefully those poor people in Texas will have at least a little bit of help. I know they’re getting it from all over, but every little bit helps.”