“Let’s roll,” said Barbi Carroll, founder of Destin-based Mission Love Seeds.
And they are off again to Panama City, like so many times before after hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Irma.
Mission Love Seeds remembers Katrina very well. The group was one of the first organizations to respond to help families in Mississippi after they lost everything Aug. 29, 2005. It was only a year after MLS was founded by Carroll and her husband John Hawbaker to work in the Philippines. Katrina was MLS’ first major disaster and much was learned to prepare for other disasters in the future.
And learn they have. After hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires or other disasters, they organize and get ready to “roll” quickly.
After Katrina, relief supplies were delivered to families in Mississippi every week, taking several 24 foot trucks with housekeeping and building supplies, appliances, cabinets and even front doors. Then they began taking supplies once a month. More than 200 truckloads of furniture and supplies were delivered and distributed to the families. And once a house was rebuilt, volunteers went in and set it up — even with linens and towels on bath racks and pictures on the wall.
Mission plans to do the same now in Panama City — clean up homes, provide necessities and give hope. They have made several trips and have now found a family and an area, Millville, that they are working in. They are helping a single woman with four children restore her home and her life.
“Volunteers began cutting trees from roof tops, removed soaking wet furniture, sheet rock, carpets and personal belongings from homes, and began the rebuilding process to get a single mother of four back into her home," Carroll said. "We are helping many other families in that community right now. We’re working on a elderly woman’s house, too, and at the same time we are helping families that live around the single mom on three or four streets. We’re just helping as many people as we can help.”
“One thing for sure is that many of the people in Panama City do not need peanut butter and jelly,” Carroll said. “That is what they have the most of … but no bread for it. So we bought tons of loaves from Walmart to take over.”
Carroll said that food is still needed, of course. But their main need is cleaning supplies and volunteers to help remove sheet rock and furniture and cut trees.
“Trees are on their cars and on the house,” Carroll said. “They can’t do anything because they are totally exhausted from dealing with the mess left behind by Michael.”
Items needed include rakes and chainsaws, big shovels and heavy duty wheelbarrows, work gloves and face masks. Also cleaning supplies like mops, brooms, dust pans, etc.
On Mission’s trip to Panama City last Sunday, Papa John’s Pizza in Destin donated pizzas and even the warmers to keep them hot for the people needing help and the volunteers.
“Thank you Brian, Killian and Rene for getting up early to bake the pizzas,” Carroll said. “Brian is truly amazing. He messaged me the morning after the hurricane to let Mission Love Seeds know Papa John’s is ready to help.”
Tony and Lana Daniels brought their red truck to load up and deliver much-needed supplies, and Joe and Cindy Smith brought all the cleanup tools. Fresh Market donated cookies and apples.
Families are also in need of blankets and pillows, Carroll said. Mission took some last week, but “just about everyone was asking for blankets … they froze to death the night before.”
But Mission can’t do it alone. Without donations and volunteers, Mission Love Seeds could not exist.
“If you don’t have time to shop, we will do the shopping for you,” Carroll said. “No donation is too small. Every dollar adds up.”
Mail a check to Mission Love Seeds, 55 Country Club Dr. E, Destin, FL 32541 or donate online at www.missionloveseeds.org/donate.php.
Donations can be dropped off in Destin at Mission Love Seeds, 55 Country Club Dr. E; Lisa Snuggs Real Estate Group, 225 Main St. Unit 15; or the Destin Fire Control District station at 848 Airport Road in Destin. Call 850-865-1055 for more information or to help. They are making another trip Oct. 28.
“My husband and I are so blessed to live in such a giving community,” Carroll said. “We need everyone to come together and help, like you did after Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Irma.”