‘The heartbeat of what America should be’ ECHO Thrift Store collects donations for Hurricane Harvey victims

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Eureka Christian Health Outreach is no stranger to helping those in need, and that couldn’t be more true in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Danyelle Harris, manager of the thrift store, reported Tuesday that ECHO is getting ready to ship thousands of dollars’ worth of donations to North Conroe, Texas. Harris said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of donations that have come in over the past week. One person donated $800 worth of items, she said, and others have donated $520 in cash to help purchase needed items.

“I can’t even begin to put a number on what we have so far,” Harris said.

The toiletry donations, like shampoo and disposable razors, are being placed in gallon-size Ziploc bags as a care package. Harris said the store is accepting donations of all kinds, saying anything and everything is needed right now.

“I asked for pads of paper, because they don’t have paper to write down what they’ve lost,” Harris said. “They’ve got to be able to list that for the insurance companies, and paper is in short supply.”

The store has received pillows, pillow cases, sheets, insect repellant and various other donations, Harris said.

“I didn’t say I was going to take some of that stuff, but the shelters do need it,” Harris said. “When the last wave of Harvey hit, it flooded Beaumont and it added to the Woodlands.”

She had originally planned to haul the items to the Woodlands, Harris said, but that’s impossible now. The closest place to deliver everything, she said, is North Conroe.

“I just spoke with a friend of mine in South Conroe yesterday, and they were so excited to know we were bringing something right to them,” Harris said.

Everything has been donated to ECHO, Harris continued, including the semi-truck to transport the items. Harris said a man has agreed to donate his semi-truck, agreeing to drive the truck to North Conroe and pay for the gas on the way. Harris thanked those who are volunteering to help, from the people sorting items to those who have brought things into the store.

“I am overwhelmed with how people are coming together in order to meet each other’s needs,” Harris said. “There’s just something about the human heart that is greatly moved when people from all walks come together and unify.”

The store still needs help, she said. Harris asked for strong people to come to the store on Friday, Sept. 8, when everyone will begin loading the truck, saying she doesn’t have nearly enough strong people to get all that done.

“We’re going to have everything mobilized, stationed outside and ready to easily pack into the trailer when it arrives,” Harris said. “I can organize and administrate people, but packing a semi is not my gift. We will need people who can do that.”

Giving back has always been ECHO’s mission, Harris said, and this donation drive is proof of that.

“This is our heart. We want to meet the spiritual need,” she said. “When people band together to do something like this, it does that. It picks up the spirit.”

She continued, “It helps you realize the human race is capable of pulling together and meeting a need that is bigger than ourselves, that we don’t recognize in our regular mundane American society. When it gets down to the core, we’re striving to meet the core needs.”

Volunteer Manny Hardaway said he was happy to help. It’s part of his faith, he said, to give back to others.

“It was never a question about whether I was going to help but where and how,” Hardaway said. “For me, this is the heartbeat of what America should be. This is the heartbeat of what neighbors should be. You can tell me you love me, but the best way to do it is to show it.”

Volunteer Lisa Baker has a personal connection to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. She and her family survived Hurricane Isabel in 2003 when they were living in Maryland.

“I know what it’s like. It’s almost hard to describe until you’ve been through it,” Baker said. “It’s … it’s surreal. When the water first started coming into my house, I was running and grabbing towels and putting them in front of the door. By the time it got up to my ankles, I realized we needed to go upstairs.”

It’s like a nightmare, Baker said, to go through such a traumatic experience.

“You keep waiting to wake up. I still look for things I lost in the hurricane, even though it’s been 14 years,” she said. “I don’t think you ever get over that. You just remind yourself that you’re alive and you have your family and your pets. I think the biggest thing was to get over the shock.”

Seeing so many donations come in for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, Baker said, filled her with joy.

“I’m fighting tears seeing this. Truly, I am,” she said. “I feel for what they’re going through, and it breaks my heart. I would never want to go through it again.”

Baker said it’s important for everyone to do what they can to help.

“Anything someone can do is wonderful. It just warms my heart to see so many people here already volunteering,” Baker said. “If I could get down to Texas, I surely would, but it doesn’t matter how far away you are. As long as you do something, it helps. There’s no doubt it does.”

To donate to the relief efforts, visit http://www.echothriftstore.com/ and click on the “Donate” tab. Be sure to specify your donation is for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

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