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Couple lends helping hand to Florida hurricane victims

Sept. 16, 2004

By George Mauzy

Photo by Rick FaticaOhio University employees Pete and Linda Clark took a huge leap of faith recently when they delivered a large amount of supplies to hurricane victims in hurricane-damaged Florida.

On Aug. 19, the couple delivered a horse trailer full of supplies to victims of Hurricane Charlie in Port Charlotte, Fla. The supplies aided residents of the area who lost their jobs and homes during the natural disaster.

The road trip came about when Linda, director of Ohio University's Innovation Center, came across the Web page of Peace River Wesleyan Church in Port Charlotte, Fla. The church, which is of the same denomination as the Clarks' church, Christ Community Wesleyan Church in Albany, was one of many in Florida that was dealing with the devastation caused by the hurricane. After doing some investigating, the Clarks developed a plan that would help the church help people in its community.

Peace River Wesleyan Church was damaged by the hurricane."Linda felt led to help these people out, so that is when the whole thing began," said Pete, assistant director of maintenance and operations in Facilities Management." We began to solicit local donations to aid the victims of the hurricane and the list of donated items began to grow."

The Clarks received generous support from members of their church, co-workers, friends, neighbors and businesses in the community and they eventually left Athens with 100 cases of water, approximately 70 cases of food and $1,300 cash. Innovation Center staff and companies and workers in Facilities Management provided a majority of the donated cash and supplies. In addition, Allpower Equipment donated a chain saw and Crescent & Sprague Supply provided a generator.

Pete Clark by rubble left behind by CharleyPete said he was wondering during the trip to Florida whether the supplies would still be needed because the hurricane had hit five days earlier, but says he quickly received the answer to that question.

"As soon as we arrived in Florida, all of the supplies were immediately put to good use," he said. "The generator was taken to a nearby apartment complex that was without power. The food was used to feed people at the church who had been displaced from their job or home and the cash was given to the church for use in the community. All of the water was gone in 20 minutes."

Pete said the devastation caused by the hurricane was unbelievable and it felt good to be able to help out.

"It was great to help out people who desperately needed it and we couldn't have arrived at a better time," he said. "It was an overwhelming experience that wouldn't have been possible without lots of other people's help. It just goes to show you that any one person can make a difference."

With Hurricane Ivan closing in on Florida, the Clarks know that their services may be needed again.

"We're just waiting to see what happens with Hurricane Ivan and then we will contact the church in Florida again," said Linda. "The people in that area need our prayers."

George Mauzy is a media specialist with Ohio University Communications and Marketing.

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