The community is coming together in a big way to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian.

After news broke of the devastation Hurricane Dorian left in its wake on the islands of the Bahamas earlier this month, Charlotte County businesses began brainstorming what they could do to help.

A meeting was held last week to organize local efforts and figure out how supplies would be delivered.

About 20 business owners showed up and pitched ideas. A few business owners in the restaurant industry shared the same vision for helping smaller islands in the Bahamas, and decided to team up.

Dean’s South of the Border, Harpoon Harry’s, Los Dos Cristianos Coffee Shop, Smugglers Enterprises, Inc., Punta Gorda Aluminum, and Laishley USA, for example, put out a call to their customers that they would be collecting supplies.

General manager of Dean’s, Carrie Dillow said when she first heard about the impact Hurricane Dorian had on the Bahamas, she knew she had to help.

“We do a lot of fundraisers, we work in the restaurant business, so we have a vessel [to help],” she said.

Dean’s put on their chalkboard outside of the restaurant that they were collecting supplies. Word spread fast.

“At first we were not OK,” Dillow said. “It came in so quick.”

Dillow said at one point, her office was so packed with supplies that came in that she could not move around.

She called Scotty Davis from Punta Gorda Aluminum, who has a pickup truck and trailer for help. He picked up one batch of supplies from Dean’s, and Dillow asked if he could leave a trailer at the restaurant to hold more supplies that would be coming in.

“It’s not one person, so many people are pulling the pieces together,” Dillow said of the local effort.

Davis added that he wanted to get involved, because he and his wife stayed at Green Turtle Cay last year.

“The people over there are beautiful,” he said. “People helped us out after Charley, we’re going to be there for them.”

Members of the non-profit Move Mountains in North Port helped sort items to be shipped out.

Cheney Brothers agreed to help ship the supplies to affected areas in the Bahamas. There are strict requirements how supplies need to be brought over. Supplies must be on 40-inch-by-40-inch pallets and shrink wrapped. They were transporting specific items, including tarps, diapers, and non-aerosol bug spray.

The rest would be flown over through Agape flights.

Digital Marketing Manager for Cheney, Dawn Russe said a customer of theirs, Bruce Laishley organized for them to accept the items from the local collections.

“The items are here at our Riviera Beach warehouse being consolidated and will be sent down to Seacor Island Lines to be delivered to the Abaco Islands by Seacor,” Russe said.

For now, Dillow said Dean’s has put a pause on the collections and said they will take some time to re-evaluate the needs and see where they can have the biggest impact.

Harpoon Harry’s will continue to collect monetary donations through October. They are also offering a “Round-Up” option, where patrons will have the opportunity to “round-up” their bill total to be donated to help the relief fund.

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