George Brown community collecting supplies for Caribbean island devastated by Hurricane Irma
In a difficult time for St. Maarten, members of the George Brown community are banding together to help the Caribbean country recover from Hurricane Irma.
SafeWalk and SXM Irma Relief are running a campaign until Nov. 10 to collect donated supplies to send to St. Maarten.
Vanessa Hunt, who helped form SXM Irma Relief and originally from St. Maarten, said that the hurricane flattened the country’s tourism industry but people are slowly rebuilding.
“The island sustained a lot of damage and will take time to rebuild,” she said via email. “We are a strong and resilient people and will come back from this but there are still a lot of people who need help.”
The co-ordinator for the SafeWalk program, Robert McMechan, explained that their goal it isn’t to get a specific number of donations.
“We’re hoping we can get a couple boxes of supplies,” he said. “Anything that is going to help the people get back upon their feet, and get organized is going to help the island in the long run and will be appreciated.”
The Student Association (SA), which funds The Dialog, was previously impacted by Irma when former clubs co-ordinator, Cameron Wathey lost his family’s home and business when the hurricane hit. Since Irma, Wathey has been engaged as a volunteer helping to bring donations from Toronto to the island country.
Wathey could not be reached for comment about this campaign. In September, he said that the situation in St. Maarten was chaotic.
“There’s a dire, dire need for help and support so I’m asking friends from George Brown, and anyone who can help me to donate and gather supplies,” he said.
According to McMechan the main supplies needed are bottled water, canned food, dry food, diapers, baby food, and sanitary supplies. All items will be delivered to St. Maarten by SXM Irma Relief.
While Hunt said that the country might not be well-known because of its size, she thinks that St. Maarten has the resolve to face down the impacts of Irma.
“It’s not the first time that we have had a major hurricane wreak havoc on the island and I fear it won’t be the last,” Hunt said. “But the things that make St. Maarten wonderful, her nature and her people, will always be there.
Donations can be made at the welcome desks at George Brown campuses, St. James, Casa Loma, and Waterfront, on Monday to Friday, 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.