Waco businesses and churches give back to Harvey relief

Video by Jessica Babb | Broadcast Managing Editor, Story by Brooke Hill | Staff Writer

Local businesses and churches in the Waco community are finding ways to give back to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Laura Stevenson, a volunteer at the Waco Salvation Army, explained that the Waco center is ready to go as soon as the government asks them to open. She said they’ve turned away people to Dallas because Dallas is active shelter, whereas Waco is currently on standby.

“It’s really sad that we’re having to do this, but seeing the way that people’s hearts open up and the way that God works in this type of situation is phenomenal because you never know who’s going to help and the different stories that you’re gonna hear and the impact that you yourself could have on someone,” Stevenson said. “I think it’s very rewarding spiritually and emotionally because they’re going through something extremely hard, extremely difficult that they’re going to have to figure out how to get through and we’re here to help them.”

Highland Baptist Church collected donations of personal toiletries, gently worn clothing, bleach and sheets from Monday through Wednesday, with plans to take trucks down with supplies at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Volunteers from the community helped to organize items so that supplies are ready to be distributed as soon as they arrive in Houston. Highland partnered with North American Mission Board to collaborate with other churches across the nation so that each church is able to donate certain things in an effort to ensure that all of the essential items, not just an overflow of some, will make it to Houston. Highland also partnered with Vertical on Tuesday night, where over 2500 Baylor students were present, in an attempt to get students involved.

“Baylor students brought all those items.. clothes, bleach, a lot of toiletries, I noticed that a lot of students brought brand new toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream and soap,” said Lead Pastor, John Durham. “Baylor students have just come out of the wood work with their generosity and their volunteering as well at Highland. Sororities brought stuff in yesterday and some college connection groups are coming to help and serve as well.”

D1 Sports Training is creating a t-shirt to donate proceeds from as well as hosting a donations drive at the Waco location. All 8 Texas locations of D1 will be joining in this effort. The back of the t-shirts say “strong storm, stronger state,” with all of the proceeds going to Red Cross. They also plan to do two weekends of community boot camps with all of the proceeds from that going to Red Cross as well. They are requesting donations of basic first aid, hand sanitizer, diapers, canned food, clothing and toiletries at the Waco location and will be accepting donations through September 8.

“My professional community engagement marketing strategy has always been if you take care of your community, your community will take care of you,” said Kevin Engelbrecht, general manager. “If you’re a Texan, that’s far reaching and there’s people hurting and in need. We’re very proud of the culture we have here, we’re unapologetically faith-centered and so we have iron sharpens iron across the back of our wall. We have 12 powerful character building words across the wall, and so I said that we’re going to take them off the wall, the meaning behind them and we’re going to weave them into the narrative of the people down south.”

Common Grounds is donating proceeds from every iced cowboy coffee purchased in the shop from Saturday through Monday to an organization called Global Giving that’s providing Harvey relief. Local boutique Fox and Gray posted on their instagram account that they’re collecting canned food, water, clothing and blanket donations for victims and there will be a $50 gift card raffle to use in-store for those who donate. Magnolia is donating 100% of the proceeds from their “Texas Forever” shirts towards restoring homes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, according to their Facebook page. Keller Williams realty is accepting a long list of donations, including personal hygiene items, food, and tools and hardware.