TONKA BAY, Minn. (WCCO) — A retail shop in Tonka Bay, Minnesota, isn’t typically a first stop in hurricane recovery but Chrissy Farley is looking to change that.
Farley is holding a donation drive at Gathered Goods Company to collect basic necessities which will be shipped to the island of St. Thomas. The drive started Thursday afternoon and donations of toothpaste, deodorant, diapers, aspirin, and other toiletries have already come in.
“All of the products we’re collecting, and supplies, we’re sending down to Florida which will then go to a 40 foot container and that will be shipped to the islands. Every time we can fill it, it will go on,” said Chrissy Farley, who organized a donation drive for St. Thomas.
Friday morning, Sally Bisbee of Plymouth dropped off a bag full of supplies to help her high school friend.
“It’s something simple to do to help,” Bisbee said. “It seems pretty surreal up here in Minnesota. You see it and, oh my gosh, it’s sad, but when you know someone it becomes a lot more real.”
Farley is not only getting help in donations but also the space to hold the donation drive. Farley’s sister co-owns the store with Tara Thorn who understands the needs following a disaster in an island nation. Thorn helped create a list of suggested donations.
“Living in Haiti for five years, we went through hurricanes there and obviously the earthquake in 2010,” said Tara Thorn, co-owner of Gathered Goods Company. “I know how important it is to have that connection on the ground, someone with those ties.”
For Chrissy, the connection to St. Thomas is personal.
“It’s my home. I’ve lived there for 10 years,” Farley said. “Imagine going to your home, after you went to shelter and everything you own is gone, everything,”
She experienced Hurricane Irma’s category 5 winds and rains and was willing to tough out the recovery. However, Hurricane Maria changed those plans when it was forecasted to make a direct hit on neighboring Puerto Rico, which would essentially cut off St. Thomas.
“A big, big part of it is Puerto Rico and St. Croix were our lifelines when we were hit after Irma,” she said.
Now back in Minnesota, Farley won’t be able to return to her island home anytime soon. She’s been told that power restoration alone could take up to a year.
“We’re in complete devastation. We need help. We need help and we need it fast,” Farley said.
St. Thomas will now start the long rebuilding process with a recovery effort already underway 2,500 miles away.
Farley hopes to have enough donations to fill the first container by the end of the month.
Here is a list of suggested donations:
• Mosquito Nets
• Bug Spray
• Solar Lamps
• Solar Chargers
• Trash Bags
• Toothpaste / Toothbrushes
• Feminine Hygiene Products
• Hand Sanitizer
• Cleaning Wipes
• Antibiotic Ointment
• First Aid Kits
• ANY MEDICAL SUPPLIES
She’s also accepting cash donations. This will assist her in shipping costs for extra boxes and any additional supplies.
If you’d like to help, Gathered Goods Company is located in the Tonka Bay Shopping Center by Hazelwood Restaurant — 5619 Manitou Road, Excelsior 55331.
They are open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.