Local organizations collecting supplies to help hurricane-ravaged Abaco Islands

Local organizations collecting supplies to help hurricane-ravaged Abaco Islands

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — There are a lot of people looking for ways to help the Bahamas following the widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian.

In an effort to streamline collections and consolidate many individual efforts, Operation 300, with support from the City of Stuart, Martin County, Premier Realty Group, and other organizations, has put together a massive collection effort to deliver supplies and long term help to the Abaco Islands.

“The Abacos are probably in the worst shape we could ever imagine,” said Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith.

At a hangar at Witham Field in Stuart, organizers hope to fill more than 20 semi-trucks with supplies that would eventually be delivered by plane, boat, or barge to the Abaco Islands.

Stephen Leighton, Chief of Staff for U.S Rep. Brian Mast, is working with Operation 300 outside of his position with the lawmaker.

Leighton explained that through their combined efforts, they have 60 to 70 boats on standby, 30 to 40 planes, and 15 helicopters.

Ashley Walpole dropped off a trunk-full of supplies Wednesday with her children.

“I donated more baby stuff,” Walpole said. “It’s an important lesson for them to help other people in need.”

The list of needs is long from the Bahamas, but this group is certain they will be able to provide a huge amount of support.

Operation 300 has a national reach and is already receiving interest from people nationwide to support this effort.

“If you know our mission, we take care of families of fallen soldiers. But, a big part of that is promoting patriotism and promoting service in our communities,” said Tara Baldwin, Operation 300 founder.

Jessica Bohner, Owner at Premier Realty Group in Martin County, says there is a large network of realtors also supporting Operation 300 in Martin County, Palm Beach, and Greater Fort Lauderdale.

“Almost 26,000 realtors have committed their support to this,” Bohner said. Bohner is also offering their office at 2 North Sewall’s Point Road as a drop off location for supplies.

But, it is not just about supplies. Leighton explained they are also putting together security teams, medical teams, and housing teams to stay in the islands potentially for months as volunteers.

“I think we will be able to take care of those islands plus some when we’re all said and done,” Leighton said.

“Our eventual phase is to really have a presence there for a while where we can really help these communities get back on their feet and not just throw them supplies and leave,” Baldwin said.

Walpole Trucking, American Trucking, Delivery Dudes Int., Captains for Clean Water, American Custom Yachts, Go Native Freediving, Staniel Air, Bungalows Key Largo, Jiggy Productions, Cheney Brothers, Innov8media are also supporting this effort.

You can drop off supplies at Witham Field Hangar 3 at 1845 SE Airport Rd. Stuart, FL 34996. Drop off hours are between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

There is also an Amazon registry with items that will be delivered to the hangar.

Here is a basic list of items needed for donation:

Toiletries

Trash bags

Tarps

First aid kits

Non-perishable foods

Flashlights

Chainsaws

Gloves

Generators

Extension cords

Tents

Water

Mosquito protection

Clothing

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