Here to help: Berkshire efforts target Harvey recovery

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PITTSFIELD — Those dealing with the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey don't need prom dresses and winter coats.

While those donating such items have the best intentions, said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, unnecessary items can bog down relief efforts. That's why she's partnering with other Berkshire leaders and with Rep. Mary Ann Perez, of Pasadena, Texas, to more effectively organize the goodwill in our area.

After Farley-Bouvier reached out, Perez's office has been able to pass along very specific lists of what people in her community need.

"My goal is to focus help — direct help in a focused area — because the devastation is so great," Farley-Bouvier said.

In Berkshire County, Farley-Bouvier is working with Warren Dews, a minister for Price Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church , and Bart Raser, co-owner of six local Carr Hardware stores, to coordinate disaster relief. Dews also serves as consumer sales chief and events officer at The Berkshire Eagle, but this effort is not in relation to that role.

"I want to pull everybody together to help our brothers and sisters in Texas," Dews said, adding the second he began making calls the effort snowballed. "People started to gravitate to it."

Among the items on the list are bug spray, gloves, goggles, bleach, mold remediation equipment and other cleanup supplies. For his part, Raser arranged distribution so that those seeking to donate can go to Carr Hardware stores in North Adams, Pittsfield, Lee and Great Barrington, buy listed items and place them in collection bins within the stores.

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"We have the ability to execute it because we have the relationship with True Value, and because we're a small business we can react quickly," Raser said. "It's great to have folks on the ground that can execute with no overhead and get things to the right people."

Also on the list are school supplies and hygiene products like deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, feminine hygiene products, and shampoo and conditioner.

Anyone wishing to donate new items on these lists can drop them off at 33 Dunham Mall, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4p.m. through Sept. 15. Items can also be brought to Dalton Town Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Monetary donations will also be accepted in order to cover shipping costs and needed items not donated. Checks can be made out to: Berkshire Harvey Help and dropped off at any Greylock Federal Credit Union location, or mailed to Berkshire Harvey Help c/o Greylock Federal Credit Union 150 West St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.

Those interested in helping pack donated items can contact Farley-Bouvier's office at 413-442-4300. Those wishing to help can also contact Dews at 413-212-0130.

Farley-Bouvier said she chose Pasadena, Texas, because she knows most of the relief — from larger cities like Boston — is going largely to Houston. She said it seemed fitting to offer relief to a sister city of similar size. She said she encourages organizations in Berkshire County to reach out to similar ones in Pasadena and build relationships.

"There's so many different ways that people can connect and my office would be happy to help connect organizations," she said.

Reach Amanda Drane at 413-496-6296, or @amandadrane on Twitter.


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