By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
IN LESS than 48 hours, HeadKnowles, a private social media group, has raised over $20,000 and collected tons of food, water and clothing for the southern islands of the Bahamas that were completely devastated during the passage of Hurricane Joaquin.
The category four system slowly moved over the Bahamas last week, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Long Island, San Salvador, Cat Island, Rum Cay, Crooked Island and Acklins were the hardest hit islands. South Long Island is still severely flooded and there has been little to no communication with Acklins since last Wednesday.
Lia Head-Rigby, one of the co-founders of HeadKnowles, said she woke up on Friday morning and saw nothing was being done in terms of assistance for the affected islands on Facebook, so she decided to “put my money where my mouth is”.
“My favourite saying is ‘Be the change you want to see’, so I started it and then I started to beg. I have done this a few times and it still surprises me how many Bahamians care. Bahamians are the best people: we just need to shake up some more people to remind them who they are because I do not like what has been going on and what we have seen from our leaders on all sides.
“So far we raised $13,000 on the HeadKnowles Hurricane Fund-raiser you care page and we have another $7,000 in cash and cheques. The money is being used to buy supplies but also to pay for gas for the barge and gas for Trans Island Airways. We also just received a pledge of $250,000 that we will use to match a fundraiser this entire week, we are working with the Tribune Media Group to facilitate this,” Mrs Head Rigby said.
“We have gotten lots of help from private organisations. Johns sent boxes of shoes, Lorene’s sent clothing, Coca Cola dropped off 80 cases of water, Modernistic dropped off a truck load of food for animals, Bahamas Automotive Training Company (BATCO) dropped off 700 cases of water and juice and bleach and napkins and stuff like that and private citizens have been coming in all day.
“Milo Butler sent us Kibbles and Bits and pallets and pallets of food.We had the men of the Sigma Fraternity assist and Genesis Junknaoo Group have all helped. A lot of people want to do what they can and we have a lot of family from Crooked Island and Long Island Family who are here helping.
“Our first pile of donations went to Acklins because from what we see there is not a lot of people doing anything for Acklins and although not many people live in Rum Cay, the pile of goods for Rum Cay will be just as big as that for San Salvador. We are not counting, just helping.”
Mrs Head Rigby said despite all the donations they have received so far, because of the devastation of the islands there is still a lot more needed and a lot more work to be done.
“We have been here for two days and we have had 75 people coming in and out to help but we need more because we are going to be here for another two weeks because this is so devastating, it cannot be fixed in one week. We need water, medical supplies, deodorant, can openers, toothpaste, candles, matches, gas tanks, gently-used or new clothes and shoes, blankets and things like that we need.
“We also need canned goods, can openers and things for children. So stuffed animals, games, baby items anything helps. Even if you only have one gallon of water, that goes a long way.”
Drop off locations are Island Cellular, Furniture Plus Warehouse, New Oriental Laundry locations at Prince Charles Drive, Mackey Street, Golden Gates and Cable Beach, the Bahamas Red Cross and Odyssey Airlines at LPIA.
HeadKnowles is also still appealing for cash donations for gas for planes and lumber for house repairs.
On Saturday at Island Cellular, Rosetta Street, 100 Jamz and Y98FM, the Radio House stations, donated their services by broadcasting live from the venue to help the HeadKnowles relief effort, with on-air personalities Saraan, Naughty and JJ McKenzie helping to publicise the appeal.
Ms McKenzie, Director of Marketing/Online Promotions at Radio House described the public response at the Island Cellular event as “amazing” and “heartwarming” and said that “this could be one of the worst diasters the Bahamas has seen in years because so many islands were hit”.
“Bahamians really have come together to help our friends and families affected by this devastating hurricane,” Ms McKenzie, presenter of the midday show on 100 Jamz, told The Tribune. “People donated everything from water, non-perishable items, clothing, linens, cleaning supplies, towels, shoes to propane tanks, beds, building supplies, tarps, baby seats and dog food.
“One gentlemen donated a cooler full of insulin and needles and a doctor donated an oxygen tank and masks. Barges, planes and boats were also donated to carry the supplies to the islands. People were coming because they heard our plea on the radio. We had children stopping in giving us a few dollars, it was heartwarming.”
For more information on the HeadKnowles relief effort visit https://www.youcaring.com/bringing-relief-to-our-families-in-the-bahamas-443717