West Chester >> Heart‐wrenching images of the devastation in Texas have struck a nationwide chord of compassion while prompting a recurring question: What can people do from afar to help?

In response, two area first‐responders hatched a plan, and with the assistance of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office, a drop‐off site for donations opened on Thursday, Aug. 31, at the Giant supermarket in the Dilworthtown Crossing Shopping Center.

Area residents are invited to help fill a tractor‐trailer, parked outside the store at 1393 Dilworthtown Road in West Chester. Volunteers will be manning the site for at least the next several days from approximately 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh said Ron Giacinto, a captain with the West Chester Fire Police and a volunteer at Goodwill Fire Company No. 2, and Ted Hartz, president of Goodwill Fire Company No. 2, approached her about helping with a humanitarian aid initiative for Texas.

“My response was a resounding yes,” said Welsh. “Everyone has been feeling helpless and wondering how they could help the residents of this ravaged area. This gives all of us a way to reach out to those in need.”

Welsh said she was working with her national sheriffs’ connections to locate an appropriate drop‐off location in Texas.

Giacinto, who organized a similar effort during Hurricane Katrina, said Wayne Moving & Storage stepped up and not only supplied a tractor‐trailer but is donating the gas and drivers needed to make the trip across the country.

“That was huge,” Giacinto said, adding that once he and Hartz announced the plan on Facebook, people began contacting them. Giacinto said some businesses already had started collecting items but weren’t sure how to get them to the right people. “So now they’ll bring stuff to us.”

Before Giacinto even had time to put up signs, drop‐offs began on Thursday afternoon. Patty Leavens of Thornton said she read about the effort on Facebook and added some items to her shopping list so she could donate them.

Georgette Balback read the same post and drove up from New London to purchase a shopping cart full of supplies.

“I really wanted to be able to help,” she said.

Items that will be accepted include non‐perishable food, bottled water, sports drinks, baby supplies (diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, car seats, pack and plays, strollers) pet supplies (dog or cat food), cat litter, batteries, Lysol or Clorox wipes, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, paper towels, razors, shave cream, tooth brushes/toothpaste, body wash/soap, deodorant, brushes, combs, shampoos, snack packs, adult diaper products (Depends), first aid products (bandages, Neosporin, etc.), adult and children’s Tylenol, large garbage bags, rubber gloves, pillows (NEW only), and gift cards (such as VISA, gas, and Walmart).

Organizers said they cannot accept clothing or toys since they lack the resources to process them.

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