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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - Bulloch pitches in to help victims of Irma
IRMA BRUNSWICK Web
Brunswick resident Ren Griffis, left, passes out hugs after serving her fellow residents during Wednesday's food distribution organized by Statesboro volunteers and charities. Griffis had no power or water in her home after Hurricane Irma, but saw a call on Facebook for volunteers and decided to get out and help. She had a hug for everyone in line. "It's a little out of my comfort zone, but I had a hot meal for the first time in three days yesterday, so I know how important this is." - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

               There are many things that make Bulloch County a great place to live and do business. There is no greater example of this than when we as a community are faced with a huge challenge. Last week, our community was called upon to test our strength as Hurricane Irma had Bulloch County in her sights.
        This community mobilized and responded in extraordinary ways. The capacity of kindness and giving continues to amaze me. Not only did our public safety agencies tote a large load, but the newly formed Bulloch VOAD (Volunteer Agencies Organized in Disaster) helped pull together volunteers and volunteer agencies which came through in tremendous ways.
        Crossroads, Connection, First Methodist, First Baptist, Pittman Park, Register Baptist, New Beginning Community Fellowship Ministries and Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center and so many more churches and their congregations stepped up to help.
        The Statesboro Food Bank, Christian Social Ministries, Fostering Bulloch, Mighty Men Ministry and Broken Shackle Ranch engaged in every way possible. Chairman Roy Thompson, Sheriff Noel Brown and Commissioner Curt Deal led the way and ensured us that Bulloch County leadership was with us, supporting the efforts in every way possible.
        There were many who gave all to support our local efforts but there is certainly more space in Heaven for Chris Yaughn, David Cobb, John Long and all the linemen with EMC and Georgia Power who led the way. Once we determined that other than significant power outages Bulloch County was pretty much spared and we could turn our focus on others who needed help. Irma was certainly no Matthew for us. Thanks to Matthew, our community had over prepared. The day following the storm, we realized that many of the coastal communities were not as prepared as we were, nor were they spared.
        With the green light from Ted Wynn, Director of Bulloch EMA, to release our resources we began to look for a community we could help. Glynn County seemed to be the most affected community close to us that needed our help.                 Over the next four days, teams led by Chris, David and John moved into Brunswick.
        They prepared 10,750 hot meals and distributed 2,300 35lb bags of groceries that hundreds of volunteers in Statesboro assembled. They gave away 500 flashlights, cases of baby diapers, cleaning supplies, paper products, 2,000 loaves of bread, 6 pallets of water, 800 bags of ice and 1,500 pounds of loose ice were also distributed.
        The best gift Bulloch County gave Glynn County was hope. Many had grown quiet hopeless. A hot meal, warm smile and compassionate hug was enough to ensure them that help was on the way and things would return to normal soon.
        Equally, I was thrilled by the engagement of our business community. Many of them stepped up in unimaginable ways. It was their support, entrusting us with their resources that allowed us to make the incredible difference we did.
        R.J.'s Grill provided meals, Crider Foods gave pallets of canned and frozen chicken and provided us with a tractor trailer and driver to get food supplies into Statesboro. David Ball donated a 60,000-square-foot warehouse, Party Harbor, Digital Office Equipment, Y-Delta provided trucks and drivers and FBC provided a bus. Hagan Welding Supply gave us additional warehouse space, Bimbo Bread donated most of the bread we distributed. Richard Pylant of RC Lawn Care provided fuel for our trucks. Neal Ardman gave full use of his radio stations.
        Jeff Bush with Parkers and Perry Sumner with Po Jo's went above and beyond in helping get fuel into our community and helping communicate the challenges with supply and when we could expect gas and where.
        Tod Marsh at Bi-Lo and his team led the way early and often in keeping supplies in stock. Tod continuously communicated with us regarding his inventory and when needed supplies were on hand. Tod also secured 40,000 pounds of ice that we were able to redirect to another community.
        There are so many more, I could bankrupt a dictionary and still not mention everyone who helped. As the business editor, I enjoy sharing with you what new and exciting businesses are coming to town. I work to balance that by giving our loyal, local businesses the credit they deserve every chance I get. This week is no exception. Our business community responded with overwhelming generosity.
        We know that you make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give. This community gets it. It is a special place to call home and make a wonderful life. We are truly blessed to live in Bulloch. Thank you to everyone who stepped up for our community this past week.
        "On behalf of the residents of Glynn County, thank you so much Bulloch County! We very much appreciate it!" said Janell Harvey, United Way of Coastal Georgia.

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