Supplies for Houston area flood victims headed south

LISBON — A semi-trailer loaded with thousands of dollars in supplies donated by Columbiana County residents headed for the flood-ravaged Houston area first thing Monday morning.

Begun a month ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the grassroots campaign started by Lisa Dawson and her staff at Tiny Tots Depot & Sports Station in Lisbon to help flood victims in Houston snowballed, with local organizations, businesses and schools piggybacking onto those efforts.

“At first we started out just collecting diapers … Now we have thousands and thousands of dollars in supplies going on the trip,” Dawson said. The other items include cases of bottled water, cleaning and personal grooming supplies, pet food, school supplies and clothing.

Josh Kupka of Lisbon is organizing the trip. He was working in the Galveston area for a defense contractor when the hurricane hit and was unable to get home for six days. While stranded there, he decided to help with rescue efforts and advised Dawson, who he knows through their membership in ATG Worldwide, what items were needed most.

Kupka said they decided to wait several weeks before making the trip to better determine what supplies were needed. He said fellow ATG member Brandon Landsberger donated use of his semi-trailer and he will the drive the rig, accompanied by his wife. Kupka will also follow in his pickup truck with more supplies, and he said about 10 other people are planning to make the 21-hour trip. They were expected to arrive today.

Their destination is a Houston suburb where homes and the local school were flooded, forcing the district to move to an old building. The school district arranged for volunteers to meet them on the school property, and flyers were sent out to parents advising them of the event and when the convoy was arriving.

Kupka has been amazed by all of the local support from individuals, businesses such as Pondi’s Restaurant, which donated a generator, organizations and schools, which collected school supplies at football games.

“We don’t even know who a lot of the people are. People just stopped by to drop things off’ or make a monetary donation, he said. “People gave what they could … Everyone stepped up. We didn’t have to reach out to anyone.”

As for the volunteers who loaded the truck and are making the trip, “We’re just a bunch of guys and gals who are trying to make a difference … That’s what it comes down to — trying to help your fellow Americans,” Kupka said.