When a call for donations for the victims of Hurricane Harvey went out from the Watertown Police and Fire department in late August, people responded in droves from Watertown and communities as far away as Plymouth.
By Thursday afternoon, half of the Police Department’s sally port – which can fit at least four cars – was filled with cans of food, diapers, shampoo, pet food and much more. The donations were picked up by a truck from a group teaming up with Curt Schilling’s foundation, Operation Bullpen.
Maria Carrion, a Watertown emergency dispatcher who helped organize the drive, said people from all over starting bringing items to the Police Station.
“People at different companies, different high schools, not just from Watertown, started doing their own collections and bringing it here,” Carrion said.
Officer Rick Munger, who also organized the effort, said Watertown’s hurricane collection got good publicity.
“People go to ‘how to donate to Harvey victims’ and they saw the Watertown Police are collecting until Sept. 11,” Munger said. “We had people from Plymouth, Andover, Burlington, Billerica. They just kept coming.”
The Watertown Police originally planned to have the Teamsters deliver the items to hurricane impacted areas, but Munger’s sister Denise Passaretti had worked with Operation Bullpen in the past and contacted the group. They put her in touch with from Chica’s Furry Friends, an animal rescue group based in Rhode Island that decided to help those hurt by the storms in Texas and Florida.
Brandon Atwood from Chica’s Furry Friends showed up with a U-Haul truck Thursday to take as many of the donations as he could and take to a central packing area in Plymouth. He was also heading to New Hampshire on Thursday evening.
Sweaty from helping to load the truck, Atwood said he was glad to see people’s generosity.
“Seeing this restores my faith in humanity,” Atwood said.
Half the donations will go to the Beaumont and Rockport areas of Texas, Atwood said, and the other half to Pensacola, Fla. From there, groups in those areas will distribute the items.
Atwood will drive one of the trucks to Texas, which he said will take 2.5 to 3 days. While he is there, he will be posting Chica’s Furry Friend’s Facebook page (click here), including live video.
“We want people to see where (donations are) going and the people it’s helping,” Atwood said.
The trailers being driven south were donated by Boston Trailers. The Police Department got help from Home Depot, which donated boxes and tape to pack up items.
Some of the donations that came in could not be used for hurricane relief, Munger said, but they found places for them.
“We wanted new stuff, but we got some used things,” Munger said. “We donated clothing to Sister Thrift in Boston, and we donated items to shelters – things like small soaps and shampoos.”
Carrion, who has also organized fundraising efforts to help Cops for Kids with Cancer, said she did not start the drive for any recognition or glory.
“Its just something as simple as they need it and putting something out there,” Carrion said. “Also, I am trying to teach my daughter that you should do something for others, and not just think of yourself.”