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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Island rushes to relief of victims
Being prepared
Anna Maria residents loaded up on sandbags provided by the public works department Thursday, Aug. 12. Volunteer Bob Dallas at right and PWD Director George McKay shovel sand as residents rushed to protect property. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Heeding the message
Hurricane Charley must have gotten this message posted in front of Tropical Treats on Gulf Drive in Anna Maria. Islander Photo: Paul Roat

From water to food to dollars, from churches to business people to firemen, Anna Maria Islanders are rushing to the aid of Hurricane Charley's victims.

Always sympathetic and generous, many Islanders are frustrated at where to go to start their help on its way. They are relieved at surviving intact another narrow escape, and they just want to help those who suffered the wrath of Charley.

Jeff Croley of Holmes Beach, an Islander of 20 some years, has made several trips to Sebring, Wauchula and Arcadia in the wake of the storm.

Croley has some relatives there and he's volunteering with a group organized by the American Legion on U.S. 301 near Wellcraft. He manages a Longboat Key property for Michael Saunders & Co. and has taken a week's vacation to provide relief to storm victims, and like others, he's doing it in gratitude for being spared from the storm.

Croley highlighted some of the immediate needs in the devastated areas to the east of Anna Maria Island. "Yesterday was the first I've seen of the Red Cross there and that was late in the day. They need ice and water desperately."

He said they need "grills, charcoal and lighter fluid. Bug spray. Easy to open, pop-top foods, like Spaghetti-Os, and flashlights and batteries - it's dark there at night.

Clothing and other such needs will be taken care of later, he indicated.

Islanders who want to help Croley supply victims can reach him at 284-1964, or drop off donations to The Islander, where a "staging area" for donations is available in cooperation with Ooh La La! Bistro at its vacant adjoining storefront and volunteers from Harvey Church.

"It (Charley) was supposed to be ours," said Mike Shannon, who is organizing some assistance for the Chiles Group. "We're extremely lucky, and we need to share with the unlucky people that Charley didn't miss."

Ed Chiles will match "dollar-for-dollar" any monetary donations to the victims, and his employees are collecting such goods as bottled water, dried and canned foods, baby formula and diapers. "The media is focused on Punta Gorda," said Shannon, "and that's what they should do. We'd also like to help closer neighbors, like Wauchula and Arcadia and others that aren't getting so much attention."

He said donations may be made at the three Chiles restaurants: Beach House, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach; Sandbar, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria; and Mar Vista, 760 Broadway, Longboat Key.

The Rev. Bill Grossman, pastor of Harvey Memorial Community Church in Bradenton Beach, would like to associate his church with one in Myakka or Arcadia, where hundreds of migrant workers are affected. Harvey also is working with Peace Community Church in Ft. Myers. "We're in this together," he said in his Sunday sermon.

Donations may be taken to services at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Harvey, 300 Church Ave., or any day to church member Nancy Ambrose at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or checks with a memo for Hurricane Charley may be mailed to Harvey at P.O. Box 243, Bradenton Beach FL 34217.

Harvey is teaming with Harvest United Methodist Church of Bradenton, which is making daily runs to the Arcadia/Myakka area, and will be helping the Peace Community Church in Ft. Myers. Grossman said folks can earmark their donations for either of the relief efforts.

He said cash donations and supplies, such as Depends and baby diapers, are needed.

The Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island is asking that relief checks be made out to Rotary District 6960 with a memo for Hurricane Charley and dropped off at Island Florist, 5312 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

Another Island business collecting water and supplies is Ginny's Antiques & Art and Jane E's Coffee and Tea, both at 5600 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

Paulette Webb of Gaunt Inc. of 3011 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, is also collecting through Friday supplies and donations to buy needed items, which Floyd Gilley has volunteered to deliver to east Manatee County storm victims.

Cindy Perinetti at Island Gourmet, 5604 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, is rounding up checks for the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross Manatee Chapter said that at this point monetary donations will best serve the hurricane's victims, for "they don't have a home to cook in or a closet to keep clothing, but money helps everyone." Shampoo, soap, razors, toothpaste and such personal items are welcome as well. Donations may be sent to the chapter at 2905 59th St. W., Bradenton FL 34209, or may be dropped off to Perinetti.

Churches are taking a hand, too. Roser Memorial Community Church's mission committee has sent a check to the Salvation Army disaster relief fund, said a spokesperson, and forwarded at least one check from an individual.

Island Baptist Church is working with the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief Team, said a spokesperson, coordinating donations of money, food and supplies.

St. Bernard Catholic Church has been collecting special funds at all Masses, and many volunteers from the church are helping churches in the disaster area.

West Manatee Fire & Rescue District sent several engines and four people to the scene and may send another this week, said Capt. Ernie Cave. Deputy Chief Bret Pollock has been assigned to Lakeland to lend a hand there.

Units from Cedar Hammock Fire District and Manatee County Emergency Medical Services and Longboat Key firefighters were on the trip with WMFR.