This incredible fundraiser has turned into something so much larger than I expected. And I am so grateful. Thank you for blessing these Pensacola families while they rebuild and recover from the terrible floods that ravaged the city on April 29, 2014. Pensacola is near and dear to my heart as my entire family lives there (they are all safe, thank goodness).
You can read the launch post for this fundraiser here for background, more details and photos of the devastating damage. In short, my family and I huddled together in my parent’s master closet in 2004 while a tornado took half the roof and ceiling off of our home. The next morning, we walked into my brothers room and saw four walls… and sky. What was left of the roof and ceiling had collapsed onto my brother’s bed and broken it in half. It was the first time I saw my Dad cry (many of you know him as Pop Pop). Hurricane Ivan was the worst thing that’d ever happen to that sweet city, until April 29, 2014. I’ve heard this storm was much worse. Though I’m 500 miles away in Tampa now, I can only imagine what the city is going through as it rebuilds – the broken hearts, the broken houses and the lost memories and treasures that floated away with 26″ of water (that fell in 24 short hours).
Over the past few days, I’ve heard story after story of families – many with children – who hid in plant ledges 12 feet above the ground the escape the rising water. Many were rescued by boats (on second and third attempts after boats capsized in the rushing waters). Many lost everything. I earned a Masters Degree in nonprofit management and have always had a burning little fire to SEE A NEED and MEET IT DIRECTLY rather than give to larger nonprofit organizations (even though those do a WEALTH of good as well). It’s just so incredible to be able to pool money together from generous and loving individuals and put 100% of it in the hands of someone who is desperately in need of it. You all have done exactly that the past 24 hours. There are two special ways to give:
Since yesterday afternoon, we’ve raised over $2,000 through our Pensacola Strong and You Are My Sunshine printable art print sales (with your gift of $10 a print-ready file will be instantly emailed to you to print at home, cut on the crop lines included and frame in an 8×10 frame). That money has been split into $200 increments and will be gifted to families in Pensacola in the form of American Express gift cards to be used for necessities as they rebuild.
Equally as incredible is the amount of support for our newly established Pensacola Blessings Fund. Many of you asked how you could donate specifically to bless individuals who are hurting – to bring a bit of joy to their lives in this difficult time. So late last night we started this fund. It’s very simple – you give any amount you can and we pool it together to purchase bedtime books for children, new shoes for moms and dads clearing homes of waterlogged furniture, hot meals for neighbors giving their time to help tear down damaged walls and even favorite toy replacements (like as our first blessing – the Saige American Girl Doll we purchased last night for a little girl who lost her home and her favorite doll — the way this came about was incredible. I posted on our FB page looking for any AG doll for this sweet girl… within 45 minutes we had enough money to buy a brand new replacement doll plus 3 additional AG dolls, AG doll clothes and handmade personalized birthday crowns for this sweet girl AND her doll).
Your monetary donations go a long way in helping us deliver these little blessings. If you are interested in donating goods or other items, here are a few immediate needs. Please email me directly if you’d like to send any of these goods or can even donate gift certificates to places where we can purchase these directly once we know sizes, etc. I will collect them and deliver these little happies to the families:
- NEW SHOES: A sweet family who is in need of new shoes – a family of four, Mom, Dad, little girl, little boy
- ACCESSORIES: A little girl who is 13 and lost her home and loves jewelry and accessories (headbands, necklaces, bracelets, etc).
- NEW BOXES OF LEGOS: A little boy who is 7 who LOVES legos (this will be part of our second blessing – we’ll be purchasing a few today).
Please note as much as we would love to accept other physical donations (clothes, shoes, toys, etc) these families have no homes or storage. Many are staying with friends or family and have little space just for the necessities. I realize accessories and legos aren’t necessarily necessities but imagine the little bit of joy they’ll bring to these difficult days for these sweet families. Sometimes a little bit of happiness is great medicine for an aching heart. Many thanks, friends. From the bottom of my hearts. Together we can make such a difference. Even though we are all over the world, we each know the love and connection we have to that place that just feels like home. Thank you for helping me support mine.