Irma victims getting help from the county

Tribune Chronicle / Renee Fox Kevin Lemon, left, and Kim Chitwood, both with Tree Trimmin’ Express, load 50 cases of bottled water onto a 57-foot trailer Wednesday as part of a collection for Hurricane Irma victims in Florida. The company donated the water, the trailer and its employees’ time. Supervising the work is Joe Sofchek with the Mosquito Lake State Park Marina, where the collection is being held through Sunday.

BAZETTA — A team of volunteers is camped out at the Mosquito Lake State Park Marina, loading supplies for Hurricane Irma victims, and will be accepting donations to fill a semi-truck trailer through Sunday.

Joe Sofchek, a retired Bazetta police officer, said he spends a lot of time in Florida.

“It’s like my second home,” Sofchek said.

So when Hurricane Irma made landfall and devastated the Florida Keys, Sofchek knew he wanted to do something to help. It only took about a day to find a company to help and set up the collection drive, he said.

Tree Trimmin’ Express of Middlefield donated the 57-foot trailer and its employees are helping to load donated supplies, along with other volunteers who work at the marina.

An employee of the tree trimming company will start heading to Fort Lauderdale on Monday, if the trailer is full enough. The Southwest Ranches Fire Department, near Fort Lauderdale, plans to deliver the supplies to the Keys, where most of the Florida damage was, Sofchek said.

Kim Chitwood, an employee of Tree Trimmin’ Express, said it’s been a lot of work loading cases of water, boxes of supplies and bags of nonperishable food, but it feels good to help others. Her sons, 5 and 12, have been helping after school, she said.

“It gives us all a sense of pride to be doing something to help out the people there. Many people don’t have anything, but we have the ability to help, so we should. It is a good learning experience for the boys,” Chitwood said.

Other businesses and churches have helped collect supplies, Sofchek said. But individuals are also helping by bringing anything they can.

“Every little thing helps,” Sofchek said.

Also, members of the International Red Hat Society Fun Attitudes Chapter 41124 are collecting items for hurricane victims through Oct. 28.

Personal care and hygiene items, canned goods, toilet paper, paper towels and baby items can be dropped off 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Fridays and Saturdays at Northwood Center, 1601 Motor Inn Drive, Liberty. Checks also can be made to Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse. Credit cards and gift cards also will be accepted.

Pam Baker, guidance counselor at Girard Intermediate School, brought 30 blankets Wednesday made by fourth- to sixth-grade students in the Hug Blanket Program.

”The students gave up their recess to make the blankets,” Baker said.

Donations also can be dropped off at Lakeview and Howland high schools, Apostolakis Honda in Cortland, Sims Auto Park in Warren, Evenbay Real Estate in Howland, Top Notch Diner in Cortland, Studio 11 in Warren and Salon One in Warren.

Judie Shortreed, queen for the Red Hat Society, said 12 drop-off locations have been set up.

”People have been very generous wanting to help,” she said.