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'It Just Keeps Coming': Austinites Respond Overwhelmingly To Call For Harvey Donations

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez
John Black and Lisa Cricket load donated goods for families affected by Harvey into a truck at the Hope Family Thrift Store.

Addi Reichle, 7, stood in the back of her family’s SUV and helped unload diapers, socks, underwear and pillows.

“Can you take two?” she asked her 3-year-old brother, Jude. He obliged, grabbing a second pair of socks to add to an ever-growing hill.

The Reichles drove to the Austin Disaster Relief Network on Thursday morning to drop off donations collected by their local church. At times, street traffic was blocked as throngs of Austinites drove to ADRN’s headquarters on East 51st Street to unload items for people displaced by Harvey.

Some dropped off ‘welcome kits,' heeding the call made by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and dutifully following his Facebook Live demonstration of how to assemble a worthy kit. According to the mayor's office, ADRN received 639 kits just a day after Adler's announcement.

ADRN dropped off 300 welcome kits at the Delco Center on Friday morning, Executive Director Daniel Geraci said.

“I’m bringing the things that the mayor suggested,” Peggy Wall said, as she sat in her car waiting to drop-off her welcome kit. “I think I added a few little things [including] some feminine hygiene projects. The woman in front of me at Target was getting condoms. I thought that was a really good idea.”

Wall’s kit was added to a growing mound of supplies, most of which had spilled onto the concrete outside the building’s loading dock. 

“I thought that it couldn’t get any bigger,” said Amanda Bartlett, who was taping and shrink-wrapping boxes of supplies sorted by category – toiletries in one box, clothing in another. “It just keeps coming, which is just so wonderful because we definitely need it.”

Credit Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT
Courtney Powell, Michelle Crawford and Roberta Garcia pass donated goods to a truck at the Hope Family Thrift Store. The supplies were either being shipped to churches and shelters or being offered to evacuees who come to the Austin Disaster Relief Network building.

The supplies were either being shipped to churches and shelters or being offered to evacuees who came directly to the ADRN building for supplies. People like Andray Brown, 24, who evacuated his home of Bay City, 80 miles south of Houston, on Friday morning. He waited for supplies in a part of the ADRN office normally reserved for worship.

“As far as I know we got a lot of flooding, mostly inside the house,” said Brown, as his 1-year-old son, Legend, babbled at his feet. Brown, who works at a chemical plant in Bay City, said at first he evacuated to Arkansas where he has family. But when his mother got homesick for Texas, they headed back toward Austin.

Brown came to the ADRN to get diapers and wipes for his son. He said his work was expecting him back on Tuesday.

“If I don’t really have a place to stay, I’m gonna just call them and tell them I don’t really have a place to stay so I'm going to just stay here,” he said.