‘Help For Houston’ Donations, Volunteers Fill City Hall Plaza

BOSTON (CBS) — The Help For Houston donation drive filled Boston’s City Hall Plaza with boxes and bags on Friday.

The deadline for donations was at noon. Volunteers began arriving mid-morning to help organize and package the donations for their drive to Houston.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted his plea on Thursday for volunteers to gather at 9 a.m. to help load donation boxes onto 18-wheeler trucks headed to Texas.

He estimated that about 500 volunteers came forward.

One of them was Natalia Diaz.

Diaz lives in Houston. She flew up to Boston on Thursday night for a wedding this weekend and decided to volunteer.

Her neighborhood is underwater.

“It’s been just destruction, devastation, seeing kids and families waiting to be rescued for days on their rooves without power, without food,” Diaz described. “It just seemed like it was awful.”

“I was here for the Marathon Bombing and I know how this city comes together and gets stuff done and supports their community. I want to be a part of this to help my family in Houston,” she said. “Thank you to the city of Boston, you guys are wonderful and Houston appreciates it so much.”

“I lived and worked in Houston for a while and it’s painful to see what’s going on,” said Toni Elliott, another volunteer. “So I just wanted to help in some way, I’ve given, there’s been money to charities, but I just felt the need to do something physical.”

“Having so many people do some much, in such a short period of time, it’s incredible, it’s overwhelming,” said Walsh.

Director of Emergency Management Rene Fielding was also thrilled by the outpouring of support.

She said, “It’s emotional. Everyone is just so happy to be here to give back and do anything that we can to support [Hurricane Harvey victims] and let them know that we are there with them in spirit.”

Help is also on the way for all of the pets in the Houston area that were impacted by Harvey. There were hundreds of dogs that were separated from their families that had to be rescued from the floods.

Shultz’s Guest House in Dedham is collecting donated pet supplies. They’ll drive the food, toys, medicine, and other supplies down to Texas in their company van.

They’ll bring back some stray dogs with them. Shultz’s founder Jim Halpin says it’s a group effort.

“Shultz’s Guest House is a community where thousands of people have adopted dogs here. We’re volunteers and people are just showing up with merchandise for us,” Halpin said.

Volunteer Rich Knapp says he has adopted one of the dogs.

“We’ve got a very lovely dog at home whose happy, and comfortable,  and warm. We have some heartbreaking pictures on the TV of what had happened to the animals down there, and of course the people as well,” Knapp said. “We thought we would help out any way we could.”

Fielding is grateful for everything people have done to help the people of Houston. She also glad to see young people involved.

Shultz’s guest house has been so overwhelmed with donations that they’re going to need a bigger truck.

“It’s just amazing to see all the families coming with the young kids and having them give donations and teaching them the importance of helping your neighbor,” Fielding added.

By the end of the day on Friday, Walsh expects 7 18-wheeler trucks full of donations to be on the road. It’s estimated that Boston is sending 280 tons of supplies to Houston.

The Help for Houston drive had been going on since Tuesday. It called for food, water, toiletries and cleaning supplies.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports

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