Distribution Center: Rolling Fork’s needs changing by the day

Published 3:20 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Pallets of donations and the rattle of shopping carts have replaced the sound of children at play in the gymnasium at Sharkey-Issaquena Academy in Rolling Fork.

With donations pouring in following the March 24 tornado that destroyed the town, the SIA gym is better termed Rolling Fork’s makeshift Walmart. Volunteers have organized everything from diapers to rakes and loaves of bread, and shopping carts roll in and out of the gym doors as residents recover from the storm.

Tracy Brown Fratesi, who leads efforts at the donation and distribution center, said Tuesday that residents’ needs are changing by the day — and at times, by the hour.

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“Diapers, cleaning supplies, Clorox,” Fratesi said. “We can’t get enough of those.”

Other household items they need, which many in non-crisis situations would take for granted, are gallon-size plastic bags and plastic containers.

“This is something people are asking for specifically,” Fratesi said. “People are out helping and see something that’s their neighbor’s, they can drop it in a Zip-loc and get it to the right person when they see them.”

Other items Fratesi said are needed include sunscreen, lip balm, new pillows and pillowcases, baby supplies, over-the-counter pain relievers, feminine hygiene products and new or used pop-up tents.

Rolling Fork lost most of its old-growth shade trees to the storm, which means those working on the recovery effort are doing so in the open sun.

“We need new or used tents like you’d use for tailgating because there is no shade where those people are working,” she said.

Fratesi said that, if an individual is unsure of what material items they should donate, cash is always an option. She recommended donations be made to recovery funds established at the Bank of Anguilla and at First Baptist Church of Rolling Fork, as those are “very organized and they use the funds to get things we need.”

“We might have a lot one day, but it goes fast,” she said.

The team at the SIA distribution site has also established a Facebook page where volunteers can post their immediate needs and any changes to the center’s schedule. Those who’d like to volunteer are asked to report to the SIA Gym at 7:30 a.m. every day.

To learn more, visit the “Needs for Rolling Fork” page on Facebook.