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Martin County Residents And Businesses Come Together For Hurricane Irma Relief

Thanks to the support of several local businesses and the willingness of Martin County residents to help those in need, a loosely organized relief effort provided vital supplies to Hurricane Irma victims in the Keys contending with few resources and the overwhelming task of rebuilding.

The brainchild of Martin County Commissioner Harold Jenkins and Stuart Mayor Troy McDonald, Operation Keys to Recovery was launched and operated over a three-day period and delivered donated supplies from Martin County to residents in the Keys. 

The supplies filled a 24-foot-long box truck as well as a flatbed truck loaded with plywood and nearly 2,000 bottles of water, courtesy of South Martin Regional Utility and Waterblasting Technologies.

Upon initial arrival at a makeshift drop center in Big Pine Key, Jenkins and McDonald met up with members of the REALTOR® Association of Martin County—which also contributed supplies to Operation Keys to Recovery—who had traveled to the ravaged region to contribute manpower to the rebuilding efforts of individual homeowners.

After learning through the American Red Cross about the Star of the Sea Foundation (SOS Foundation), a nonprofit organization on Key West working to provide immediate relief to local families and individuals, Jenkins and McDonald continued south. Operating out of a formerly empty storefront in the Kmart shopping center in Key West, SOS Foundation volunteers helped unload the donations of nonperishable provisions, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and pet food.

“We are eternally grateful to the citizens of Martin County for their generosity in donating supplies, which we’ll use to help so many who have lost everything,” says Tom Callahan, executive director of SOS Foundation. “We hope people will continue to consider the Star of the Sea Foundation for any other contributions of goods and support for victims of Hurricane Irma.”

The dedication of the volunteers impressed McDonald.

“These were some great people who are working hard to help their community, even as they’re dealing with a lot of loss and inconveniences themselves,” says McDonald. “The kindness of Stuart residents and citizens across Martin County made this possible, as people went out of their way to give and it really made a difference. We have so many generous people and businesses here who really respond when others are in need. Just another reminder of what a great community we live in.”

Along with South Martin Regional Utility, Waterblasting Technologies and the REALTOR® Association of Martin County, additional supporting businesses and associations included Habitat for Humanity of Martin County, Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce, Stuart Jet Center, Waste Management, Jenkins Landscape and Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. 

“Even though we were all so fortunate that we didn’t get the brunt of this thing, a lot of other people did,” says Jenkins. “The devastation was tremendous and that’s just what we were able to see driving down. The people in the Keys are a resilient bunch and I have no doubt they’ll recover, but they need help and I’m glad we were able to provide a little.

Photo by Troy McDonald