(Naples, Fla.) – The pulsating buzz of activity rising from the parking lot of the Naples Coordinate is electric. This area, which serves as the staging area for The Salvation Army’s Collier County Hurricane Irma response team, is strategically covered with ten mobile feeding units, a field kitchen, three Polaris UTVs, pallets of supplies, and heavy-duty equipment. Feverishly moving amongst the supplies and equipment, dedicated volunteers work to bring hope and help to the community.
While there are a number of Collier County residents pitching in to assist with this relief effort, including members of the community, church members, and staff, there are a significant number of volunteers from outside of the service area. In fact, there are mobile feeding units from Naples, Lakeland, Pensacola, Melbourne, Panama City, and St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as Pascagoula, McComb, Tupelo, and Meridan, Mississippi. Each volunteer has their own individual story as to why they have chosen to serve in this effort but all of them agree on one thing - “We are Naples.”
Larondric Perry of Jackson, Mississippi shares, “I know what it is like to survive a hurricane. I lived through Katrina. We didn’t have power for two weeks. I wanted to give back. Today, I am Naples.”
Perry is especially moved by the lines of children that quickly from outside the Tupelo mobile feeding unit. “They are so thankful for what they receive from us. I know I am doing a good thing.”
Kelsey Johnson of Tupelo added, “When my time is done here, I will remember the pure joy and relief on the faces of those we are serving. It feels good to be a part of something greater than myself.”
In a world that is oftentimes known more for animosity than goodwill, it is moments like this that remind us, regardless of religion, ethnicity, geographic boundaries, or economic background, we all need each other – we are Naples.About The Salvation Army