A small clothing drive for Hurricane Sandy survivors has turned into a full-fledged fill-the-semi event.
Due to an overwhelming response to an initial collection, the Rotary Club of Minot and Mary Me Bridal have expanded the collection project to include additional items and a semi-truck drop-off location.
"It's been a great project and the community has been so excited to be part of it," said Mary Keller of Mary Me Bridal. "Minot people realize how devastating a disaster is and how touching, too, when other communities reach out. It speaks highly of the Minot residents who are still recovering to be already willing to help."
Mary Keller stands next to a stack of clothing boxes in a container provided by North Dakota Port Services to temporarily store the items in the Slumberland parking lot until a semi-truck becomes available Sunday.
The outpouring of support from the region became evident when Mary Me Bridal was inundated with clothing donations within a few days of the initial promotion of the project. It was quickly determined that the desire of Minot-area residents to help others affected by a natural disaster was greater than imagined and that the project would exceed its shipping budget.
A local farmer volunteered his time and semi-truck to haul the items to the East Coast if the Rotary could come up with the fuel cost of $3,000. Between the initial Rotary Club contribution, individual member contributions and contributions from the Minot Young Professionals and the Minot Kiwanis Club, necessary funds were obtained to send a semi-truck to the East Coast. The items being collected will be distributed to a Salvation Army and a shelter in Asbury Park, N.J.
ND Port Services provided a container to hold current items in until the semi becomes available.
Additional donations will be accepted at the semi-truck in the Slumberland parking lot at 2100 South Broadway on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and Monday and Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m.
In addition to gently-used or new clothing, project organizers have expanded to include paper towels, toilet paper, diapers and new sheets and blankets. Due to the limited space available on the receiving end of the project, no other items will be collected.
Keller asks that people box any clothing donations and label the boxes with information about whether the items are for men, women or children. They should add other identifying information about the contents, such as sizes or types of articles, if possible. The information will make the processing easier on the receiving end, Keller said.
The truck will leave Minot Dec. 3 for the three-day trip to New Jersey.
The boxes will be delivered with tags explaining Minot's experience with a natural disaster and the desire of the community to help others in similar circumstances. Recipients are being asked to post pictures of themselves with the items and their stories on Mary Me Bridal's Facebook page.