Though it has been months since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans and the state of Louisiana and Mississippi, many relief efforts continue, including one right here.
The Exton Chamber of Commerce, along with four other area Chambers, Western Chester County, West Chester, Phoenixville, and Chester County, will be holding a household goods collection April 29 and 30.
"Right after the hurricane hit, we had calls from our members saying we should do something," said Larry Bowman, President of the Exton Chamber of Commerce.
Instead of just donating money or having a collection for money, the relief committee that was formed decided to do something different.
"The idea to donating items came up," said Bowman. "We didn't want to collect items and have them sit in a truck somewhere. We wanted to have an end destination."
The end destination turned out to be Pass Christian, Mississippi.
"One of the committee members had an acquaintance down there, so we had our end destination pretty quickly," said Bowman. "The committee felt it would mean more if we could pick an area that really needed it. 75 percent of the people in Pass Christian lost everything. Based on the size, it was a community we knew we could have a great impact on."
Early on in the discussions, the committee realized they needed to be organized from the get go. Trucks were needed, a location was needed, and the word needed to be put out to the public the collection was occurring.
"Sam's Club and Wal-Mart stepped up quickly and said we a driver and a truck," said Bowman. "We've got three tractor trailers now and we think we'll need more."
Once the organization was complete, the committee decided to make it a community wide event and went to the Chambers of Commerce in the area.
"They stepped up without any hesitation," said Bowman. "There was a meeting where all the chambers attended and signed on right away. Certainly the door is open for others to come in as well."
From the onset of the effort, the chamber has received an enumerable amount of help from different companies wanting to pitch in and do what they can to make the effort work. Belfor USA donated a truck; Dav-Co donated all the printing materials for flyers and posters. The West Whiteland Township Fire Department offered their assistances as well.
"We've had tremendous response from people who heard about it. We've had a great response," Bowman said. "We've had no one say no to this. We've had others saying what can we do to help and what do you need?"
According to Bowman, the idea stemmed from just a few people with helping those who were devastated on their hearts.
"The whole impetus came from a handful of members who really said we need to do a relief effort," said Bowman.
Now almost everything is in place for the event, other concerns have risen, albeit good concerns.
"Our concern now is to find additional trucks," said Bowman.
150 students from the Church Farm School volunteered to load the trucks with the items donated and Bowman is hoping the trucks will be ready to leave by the end of the day on the 30.
"We're expecting to load the trucks these two days and be ready to head south at the end of the day," said Bowman. "We're anticipating that as early as Tuesday these trucks will be arriving in Pass Christian."
Aside from finding help in all the expected places, Bowman says help is arriving in places they would never have thought to look.
"Holiday Inn Express is donating patio furniture. They are replacing it with new furniture so they are giving the older items," said Bowman. "There is an effort through the hotels in the area to help out with this."
Items that can be donated are "gently-used" or new household items such as furniture, linens, appliances, rugs, kitchen items, and the like.
"There's been an outpouring of support," Bowman said. "We're looking forward to a tremendous event on the 29 and 30."