At 8:30 p.m. on Monday night, the Lockwood Development Center just north of Uptown was dark except for a light over the door of the worship hall. Camillya Masunda peeked her head out and propped open the door.
“Thank god for social media,” she said as we hauled bags of clothes and cases of water up the steps. “Every time I get a little discouraged, another car pulls up.”
Masunda was collecting donations to take to Columbia for victims displaced by rising floodwaters. I heard about her effort on Instagram and what looked to me like a huge team operation had actually started as the work of this one relentlessly hopeful woman who would stop at nothing to help.
“I believe in prayer,” she said. “I believe prayer works, amen, but at some point we have to stand up and do something.”
So she did. Masunda saw a photo online of a truck requesting supplies in Columbia. Rather than simply repost it, she called the number on the side and asked what they needed most. Corey LaBoo, the owner of the truck and a Columbia local scrambling to collect necessities for displaced neighbors, received the call and welcomed the offer of supplies from Charlotte. They needed clothes, blankets, bottled water, everything. Without hesitation, Camille reserved a U-haul truck of her own and immediately took to her social networks to put out a call for donations.
What followed was an outpouring of support from people all over Charlotte. One by one, people stopped by the worship hall with bags of clothes, cases of water and other necessities like laundry detergent, toothpaste and nonperishable food.
Masunda and two of her friends drove the truck down to Columbia yesterday. Upon arrival they were gifted a second truck to use on Saturday and have put out another call for additional supplies. They will be accepting donations again at 208 Plymouth Avenue until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, October 9.
Masunda, who is a mother and owner of Spa Diva Kids Spa, said she never really thought twice about diving in to help the people of Columbia. “It’s something I would hope someone would do for me,” she said. “It could have easily been us. We have to do something for them.”
Charlotte supports Columbia
Masunda wasn’t alone in her immediate willingness to help this week. Daniel Hodges, Worship Pastor at One Life Church in Concord, rallied his congregation to collect 7,000 bottles of water, which were delivered yesterday. It was an early response to what will likely be increasing need. “Just heard the people from NC really helped kickstart the effort,” he said on Instagram.
Piedmont Culinary Guild sent food supplies and Charlotte chefs down to prepare hot meals for those without homes. They set up shop at Seven Oaks Elementary MEDIA Magnet School and are serving food there and at North Trenholm Baptist Church.
F3 set up a GoFundMe that has raised nearly $30,000. Funds will first be distributed first directly to F3 members affected by the flooding and then to United Way. According to the fundraising page: “Despite their own losses, many of our pax readily took to boats and other vehicles to literally rescue neighbors from rising waters and provide immediate emergency assistance. Some of our guys have lost everything — homes, cars, businesses.”
Just last night, Davidson Street Public House kicked off its two-week clothing drive Aid for Columbia in collaboration with Salud Beer Shop, Dilworth Neighborhood Bar and Grill, Gin Mill, Sycamore Brewing and Birdsong. You can drop of donations of gently used clothing items to those businesses any time after 1 p.m. through October 21.
If your Charlotte-area organization is collecting supplies to deliver to flood victims and you would like help spreading the word across social channels, tag us (@charlotteagenda) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other ways to help
One trillion gallons of water fell in the Carolinas in the last week leading to crippling floods throughout the region. Many residents in Columbia, Charleston and other hard-hit areas have lost their homes and belongings. Here’s how we can help in Charlotte.
Volunteer on the ground with Red Cross – The Red Cross of South Carolina put out an urgent plea for volunteers in highly populated areas, including Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Those interested in volunteering can begin by filling out an application here.
Donate to Red Cross flood relief – Text RedCross to 90999 to make a $10 donation or donate online here.
Volunteer on the ground with United Way – United Way of the Midlands is helping to place volunteers with partner agencies. See flood relief volunteer needs here.
Donate to United Way of the Midlands – 100% of funds will go to relief efforts (no overhead). Give online here.
Donate to Salvation Army of the Carolinas – Text STORM to 51555 or give online here.