CONOVER — A 53-foot Continental Express semitrailer packed full of donated supplies, coordinated in partnership with Lena Baptist Church, for Hurricane Harvey victims left for Texas Thursday morning.
The relief effort was prompted two weeks ago after Kelly Maggert, a member of the church located in Conover, was moved by the news of the “devastation” Texans were experiencing. She made just one phone call, posted on Facebook and it took off from there.
“It was a God-thing,” Maggert said about how quickly and easily the effort came together. “On the news you see the devastation. It just sickened me. You know, you turn on a light, and they didn’t have that. And you get a drink of water and they don’t have that. The church really came behind me and helped with donations and were very supportive.”
Continental Express donated the truck and trailer, gas and drivers to deliver needed supplies to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Continental employees, members of the community and of Lena Baptist Church donated supplies to fill the 30,000 pound trailer.
Woodson Witt, director of operations with Continental Express noted that there is a lot of focus on Florida right now after Hurricane Irma over the weekend, and has been told the people of Texas are in need “more than ever as things are settling down.”
“It was truly an honor for us to assist (Lena Baptist Church) in their efforts,” Witt said in an email. “I love that small town America still can make such a large impact. … It is the people in small town Conover and the men and women in our trucks that keep our world going round and round.”
Cases of water, non-perishable food, canned goods, adult and children’s diapers, packaged underwear and socks, and pet food, among other items, were donated by Continental Express, Lena Baptist Church and congregants, various community churches, 1157 Design Concepts, Fletcher and St. Paris Fire Departments, Edison Community College, Conover Lumber, Miami East Local Schools, National Trails Local School, Bart Schively, Driver’s Edge and RT Industries.
“We are in the business of transporting food, so it makes sense that we can help donate our time and transport these products down. So many people’s lives have been completely flipped upside down in the last few weeks. We want to help however we can. We are grateful to Lena Baptist Church, as well as to all of our employees and everyone else who donated,” said Kiera Sullivan, general counsel with Continental Express.
Pastor of Lena Baptist Church Ed Sollenberger said, “God put it in our heart to help out, some way, some how. And things just started flowing for (Maggert) and I said, ‘just go with it.’ If (this is what) God wanted you to do, it’s going to be more than just you. It’s going to move a lot of people, and it’s going to have a very lasting effect. We were were blessed by it. The community was blessed by it. It’s an opportunity to help out. And the compassion and the outpouring of support was just amazing.”
Maggert said the one phone call she made put her in touch with Continental Express who offered the truck, drivers and help gathering donations. She said a disaster relief link for Harvey victims on Facebook led her where to send the supplies.
Witt said they knew at Continental they wanted a driver, and hopefully a two-person team, from Texas, to drive the 20-hour trip to the relief center in Houston. He said Ron and Wendy McAvene, were chosen out of three teams and are “just great people.”
Wendy McAvene said they expect to arrive at their destination at 6 a.m. Friday morning.
“We are just really honored to be able to help the victims and do whatever we can to help them,” Wendy McAvene said. “We are so excited and just really honored and blessed.”
“Hopefully we can be one little piece of the puzzle, the rebuilding puzzle, because it is truly going to take a lot,” Sullivan said.
Maggert said she was very emotional seeing the truck pull away and just wants to know that Harvey victims are OK. After hearing all the bad things on the news, regarding race, political and or religious tensions, she said, this is an example of all backgrounds of people “coming together for a cause that is going to make a difference.”
“It was a community effort. I hope it helps. I’m sure it will. But this is just going to be a drop in the bucket to what they really need. But if everybody puts a drop in the bucket, the bucket will fill up,” Maggert said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.