Established in July of 2011, the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce has a long history of making a difference, and this month, members felt the need to help residents in another county as they face extremely difficult and life-threatening times.
The chamber’s vision is to preserve their historic heritage while meeting the changing business needs of our community, and recently, members held a collection for Ukrainian refugees who fled the Ukraine because of the country’s attacks from Russia.
“I think we all felt so helpless seeing what they were going through,” said Melanie Davis, the chamber’s executive director. “As we watched the news and thought, ‘There’s got to be some way we can help them,’ our community and chamber members always want to help, and they started asking if there were any collections.”
Davis searched online and found a Ukrainian church in St. Pete that was doing a humanitarian drive for very specific items.
“We had a flier created and told our members to drop off the requested supplies to our office during our business hours,” Davis said. “We did a six-day collection and we limited it because we knew it may be overwhelming. We realize this is such a small way of helping, but it allows so many people to feel they were able to help, even if just a little bit.”
In six days, the chamber was able to collect enough items to fill almost a 1,000 2.5-gallon Ziploc bags with supplies.
“Each bag is being given to one family at the border entering Poland,” Davis said. “We also collected $975 for the church, and that was used for gas to help the person transporting the items.”
The chamber delivered the items and cash to the church.
“From there, they had someone with a semitruck that came and put it on pallets, along with donations from other local areas,” Davis said. “They filled the entire semi and then it left St. Pete and headed to New York. In New York, it was all loaded on airplanes which flew directly to Poland.”
The chamber was thrilled it could help the refugees in any way possible. If you would like to learn more about the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, you can visit its website at www.southshorechamberofcommerce.org.