When the York Police Department put out the word that it was collecting supplies and water for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, tattoo shop owner Nelson “Red” Herrera bought water -- three pallets of it (5,670 bottles).
Herrera, born in Cuba and raised in Miami, brought the water, dozens of boxes of diapers and baby formula and other items to the department to help people in Texas and Louisiana. And he has challenged dozens of other businesses in York and adjacent Gaston County, N.C., to do the same.
“Hurricane Andrew in Florida, I lived it myself,” Herrera said. “Weeks with no electricity. I paid $25 for a bag of ice. I bought pizzas, hundreds of them, and gave the food away because people were hungry, man. I been there. Texas needs us. So we gotta help.”
Herrera is quick to admit he may not look the part of a typical donor.
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He has tattoos on his arms and face and neck.
A long time ago, he said he lived a tougher street life. He slept on a porch after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 with a gun in his hand. But in the decades since he has devoted himself to helping others when possible.
He also understands and respects the efforts of law enforcement in York to help in Texas, and be part of the national effort to show hurricane and flood victims they are part of a larger community of Americans, not separated by factors such as race, color or national origin.
“We are all people who need each other in times like this,” Herrera said.
The children and poor affected by the storm are particularly vulnerable to being without food, water, baby products, and items Herrera says they need.
“They have to have hope they can get through it, and they have to know that somebody cares about them,” Herrera said.
Herrera, who lives in York and owns Chaos Tattoos in Gastonia, and dozens of others responded to a Facebook post from police Sgt. Dale Edwards. The post said supplies were being collected to be delivered early next week. By Thursday morning the department’s training room was half-filled.
“The people of York have a huge heart and no doubt if this was us in a disaster the country would be helping us,” Edwards said.
Donations came by truckloads Wednesday and Thursday and even were dropped off by people in a few bags.
“I felt led to help any way I could. What the people are going through in Texas just breaks my heart,” said York resident Cynthia McKay, who brought cleaning supplies, water and baby items.
The York police collection at the department runs through Tuesday when another volunteer has offered to drive a tractor-trailer filled with goods to Texas. To donate, go to the department at 12 N. Roosevelt Street or call 803-684-4141.
Other groups around York, Chester and Lancaster counties are collecting items or sending volunteers to Texas.
▪ The 84 member churches of the York Baptist Association are asking for money donations through the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Donations can be made online at scbaptist.org. Disaster rebuild and recovery crews from the York Baptist Association that are part of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief national team are on standby for possible deployment to help with recovery and rebuild efforts.
▪ The Chester Police Department, 100 West End St. Chester, is collecting water and non-perishables including baby items and pet food through Sept. 7 for transport to flood victims. Call 803-581-2132 ext. 221.
▪ Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene, 998 Dunlap Roddye Road, Rock Hill, is collecting non-perishables through Tuesday. Call 803-328-2134 or visit the church Facebook page.
▪ Mark Wuerthele, a Lake Wylie resident, is filling a trailer with toys and baby supplies . He will leave Sunday to drive the items to Texas. Items can be dropped off at Lake Wylie Realty, 1 Executive Court, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Friday.
Consignment sale to donate funds to victims
The Upscale WeeSale will send donations from its latest charity sale to hurricane victims.
The popular consignment sale typically raises about $3,000 for charity each season. Consignors agreed to send this season’s funds to help victims of flooding in the Houston area.
Movement Mortgage shirts can raise money for relief
Movement Mortgage of Indian Land is accepting orders for a custom-made shirt that will raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
The shirt, which features an outline of Texas and the words, “Texas-Sized Hearts for Houston,” costs $20, all of which goes to Houston relief efforts. The sale ends Sept. 8.
Those interested can order the shirt at https://movementgear.com/.
The Movement Foundation is underwriting the cost of the shirts so the full $20 goes directly to disaster relief. Movement has 154 employees in Texas, including 17 in Houston. All employees have reported that they are safe. However several of them had to be evacuated from their homes and others experienced property damage.
York County Democrats gathering items to send to Texas
The York County Democratic Party is asking for donations to be collected for flood relief.
American Red Cross sends local volunteers to Texas
American Red Cross volunteers George Sawyer, Regeana Phillips and Travise Smith, all of Rock Hill deployed Thursday for Texas to help with relief efforts, said Joe Hayes, executive director of the Red Cross’ Palmetto South Carolina Region chapter.
Friday, Alton Washington of Lancaster and Cleopatra Allen of Rock Hill will make their way to affected areas.
York, Lancaster and Chester County residents should stay on their guard to lower the risk of giving to fraudulent charities, according to South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond.
Hammond said consumers should seek out charities that need support and be cautious of groups that approach you. Well-known charities typically have the manpower and infrastructure to get donations where they need to go, while charities that spring up overnight may be unable to provide as much assistance.
“We have some of the most generous donors here in South Carolina,” said Hammond, who said credit card or check transactions can be safer than giving cash. “We want to do all we can to assist the victims and make sure charitable donors are getting the best bang for their buck.”
The Secretary of State also recommends not providing personal or financial information to cold callers, including Social Security numbers, credit card and bank account numbers. Consumers can check the veracity of charities by visiting the S.C. Secretary of State’s Office website to search on a particular charity or by calling 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484).