From Heartbreak To A Giving Hand, Grassroots Efforts Aid Storm Victims

DALLAS (CBS11) – From hurricanes to earthquakes, the world has seen a tsunami of suffering in recent weeks– and despair is to be expected. But, Diane Reeves didn’t stop there.

“We just started calling people, calling, emailing… just trying to figure it out,” says Reeves. The Dallas fashion designer decided she had to help– teaming up with a childhood friend who now lives in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“If you have ice and you have water and you have food to eat and a roof, you have a lot right now,” says Dr. Carolyn Clansy Miller. A psychologist, Dr. Miller moved her practice to St. Thomas two years ago. But, was, ironically in Houston when Irma slammed into the Caribbean.

Now, she can’t get home, so she’s started a grassroots relief effort right here.

“They needed lights, so I started a campaign called ‘Be the Light’ to raise generators for people,” says Dr. Miller. The hard hit islanders also need tarps, food and water.

By reaching out to friends and associates, Reeves and Dr. Miller hope to be able to purchase 100 generators to distribute first to the elderly and medically fragile. They’ve already secured 25, along with tarps, clothes and water. The first shipment of generators will leave on a donated private plane Friday.

“I’m so thrilled that we are getting these things out,” says Dr. Miller, who shared stories of senior citizens standing in line for water and supplies and who are struggling to keep medicines like insulin cold enough in the blistering heat. “This is very personal,” says Dr. Miller, “because these are people that I know and love.”

That ‘can do’ Texas spirit is showing up on our own coast as well. Fort Worth chef and restaurant owner John Bonnell just spent the past week feeding storm victims in Port Aransas.

“We were able to bring some commercial equipment in and do a little heavier lifting,” says Bonnell. “We were still feeding about 2,500 at lunch, 500 at dinner. The need down there is still massive, it’s a mess.”

They all say that extending that hand is just the Texas way.

Reeves, who admits that her skill set is more creative than humanitarian, says she has been amazed at how much other groups have been willing to share information and partner with them to help those in need, including Christian Alliance for Humanitarian Aid and Somebody Cares Ministry.

“I went from laying in my bed watching TV saying ‘what can I do?’, to picking up the phone, getting on the internet, connecting with people… connecting with people that could help, maybe help, and they came through and they helped,” adds Reeves.

If you ‘d like to donate to their cause, click here.

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