Those who are continuing to try to live on Grand Bahama Island and the Abacos after Hurricane Dorian brought immense devastation there need help, in the way of supplies, now. The students, parents and staff of Michigan Avenue Elementary have responded.

Thanks to the efforts of current MAE staff and Ed Toothe, a former assistant principal there who has a home in the affected area, a care package of water, dry goods, non-perishable goods and personal hygiene kits was collected over the week and sent Friday to Florida Paints in St. Cloud, which is also making a donation. From there they’re headed to the airport headed for Nassau. It’ll all be loaded onto cargo ships and sent to the most affected areas.

Amy Shiver, an MAE guidance counselor, said Mr. Toothe reached out to the school to see if anything was being collected.

“Yes, all week, we’ve been collecting items for the Bahamas,” she said. “He partnered with us and started using his connections.”

Toothe worked through the Head Knowles Foundation, the a hurricane relief organization started in the Bahamas in 2015, to set up transport from here to Nassau and to the affected areas.

“Marsh Harbor had amazing devastation, there’s no way to describe it,” he said. “I want to brag on Michigan Avenue Elementary and Ms. (Diane) Nichols their principal, they’ve done an incredible job, the staff, the parents, the students, they’ve put together so many boxes of resources to go out to my family island. Some of these supplies will also go to Nassau, where there’s about 2,000 refugees (from Grand Bahama Island and the Abacos).”

Donations will still be needed in the coming days and weeks, Toothe said.

“We begin to forget as the disaster passes, so things like this are very important,” he said. “The vehicle of getting the information out is in the churches and schools, and the School District doing a great job of getting the word out. Grassroots is a powerful vehicle. Michigan Avenue Elementary has an amazing heart and it shows.”

To further make a donation of actual supplies, Head Knowles Bahamas has a link on its website to an Amazon list where people can order supplies to go to the hard-hit islands. It’s a way for our community to continue making a positive difference in Osceola County, and beyond.