Locals Help Dorian Relief Efforts

Mayor Emeritus Michael J. Yakes greets Beth Stombaugh, who donated supplies for Hurricane Dorian victims on Wednesday, September 11 outside the Gulfport Rec Center. The Michael J. Yakes Foundation is just one of the Gulfport and Pinellas County-based individuals and businesses that are working to providing supplies to storm victims. “When I saw what happened after the storm,” Yakes said, “all I could do was pray for those people.” Photo by Wolfgang Deininger.

Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas on September 1 as a Category 5 storm and left a trail of unprecedented destruction.

Relief efforts for the islands have sprung up throughout the United States. For those looking to contribute, the Gabber has compiled a partial list of local businesses and organizations collecting supplies. Most collections are taking nonperishable food, hygiene products, medical supplies and more. 

Where to Donate:

Synergy Sports Medicine and Fitness, 2838 Beach Boulevard South, 727-537-0831. In the upstairs wing above SumitrA Espresso Lounge, Synergy owner Karen Hoyt and office manager Taylor Buckner are eager to collect donations. “Everyone is teaming up to collect supplies,” Hoyt said. “This just needs to be done.”

Michael J. Yakes Foundation (MY Gulfport Foundation), Michael J. Yakes Recreation Complex, 5730 Shore Boulevard South. From September 10 to 12 until 4:30pm, Mayor Emeritus Michael J. Yakes and his crew were outside the recreation center collecting supplies for his U-Haul truck. “Anyone that saw the devastation in the Bahamas would feel it in their heart to help,” Yakes said. “It gives you a helpless feeling, but anything donated is helping someone.” For a complete list of highly-needed items, visit facebook.com/mygulfportfoundation.

Reef Dog Gifts & Grooming, 2820 Beach Boulevard South, 727-323-7007. Owner Karen DeSocio says she is committed to collecting as many donations as she can, for as long as she can. “It’s kind of personal to me: I’ve vacationed many times in the Bahamas and I just couldn’t imagine going through what they went through,” she said of her effort. “Gulfport being the fantastic community that it is, it worked.” 

Sol Relief, Albert Whitted Airport in St. Pete at 107 8th Ave. The St. Petersburg nonprofit has sent four private planes loaded with donated supplies to the islands over the last two weeks. Interested locals are still encouraged to donate what they can. For more information, visit solrelief.org

Reef Dog Grooming & Gifts Owner Karen DeSocio had what she described as “a one-bedroom apartment of supplies” packed into her car. Donations will be shipped to the Abaco Islands.

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