Volunteers collect donations to take to Haiti following Hurricane Matthew

ESSEX, Conn. (WTNH) – Hurricane Matthew has killed more than 200 people in Haiti and devastated the country. Essex has a sister city in Haiti, and volunteers in Essex are now coming together to help people in some of the hardest hit parts of the country.

Volunteers are collecting donations at Essex Boat Works. Through the volunteer organization International Rescue Group, they’ll go to people in Haiti.

“The people there have lost their shelter, they’ve lost their homes. They’ve lost everything in their homes,” said Diana Gregory, Essex Boat Works Controller.

Volunteers are looking for items like food, blankets, medicine, baby food, formula, old boating sails, tarps, medical supplies, toiletries, bug spray, clothing, and water purification tablets. They’re also looking for monetary donations. The supplies will help people in the southern part of Haiti, as well as the island Île-à-Vache, which is a few miles off the coast. The tarps and sails will be used to make temporary shelters.

“I think all of us feel a sense that they’re really struggling and especially with the storm,” said Bob Jarrett, Sales Director of Essex Boat Works. “It’s always challenging for them there.”

The donations will be packed onto a boat, and Captain Sequoia Sun and his crew will sail them down to Haiti. He was on his way to Martha’s Vineyard to pick up more donations on Thursday, and he spoke with News 8 via Skype,

“They’re completely cut off. I got a call from somebody there [Thursday],” said Sun. “They have not received any aid at all. They’ve been without food and water since Monday.”

The boat will be leaving Essex on Saturday, but people can bring donations to Essex Boat Works until Friday, October 14. Between Saturday and next Friday donations can still be shipped to the boat before the crew leaves the United States. They’re expected to reach Haiti in two to three weeks.

“It’s an incredible feeling. It’s incredible. I’m grateful that we were here to do it,” said Gregory.

After they arrive, Sun and his crew will bring the donations directly to people on a dinghy. He first went to Haiti six years ago, and he says the people there are grateful for the help.

“It’s very emotional for me,” said Sun. “I cried when I left there the first time and I knew I’d be back, so I’ve been back almost every year.”

If you’d like to donate, you can drop donations off between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. To schedule a time to drop off a donation afterhours call Essex Boat Works at 860 767 8276. Checks may be made payable directly to the International Rescue Group.

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