Locals organizing help for victims of Hurricane Ida

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 4:28 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The devastating images coming out of Louisiana as Hurricane Ida leaves hundreds of thousands of people power-less has people in our area already wanting to help.

The owners of Gilligan’s Bar and Grill in Howard are collecting donations all week for a trip down south this Saturday. They’ve never done this before, but they say if the pandemic taught them anything, it’s compassion for those in need.

Chris and Penny Knutson bought the bar and grill a few months before COVID-19 forced shutdowns.

“It was a struggle,” they say. “Things are getting better. It’s certainly not pre-COVID.”

But takeout options and community support kept them going.

“We have great customers, so the support was phenomenal,” says Chris.

“I think that actually helps us be more compassionate,” Penny adds.

Having seen firsthand how this community can come together to help, the Knutsons were encouraged to do what they could for the victims of Hurricane Ida.

“We didn’t have our roof torn off or, you know, I don’t know how they’re going to rebuild. So for us it’s, it’s what we experienced with COVID and rebuilding our business and stuff is very small in comparison to what these people are dealing with not being able to go home or not knowing how they’re going to raise their families in the upcoming year,” Penny says.

The images on TV are heartbreaking. “It’s devastating. Absolutely devastating,” the Knutsons remark.

But the images of people dropping off donated items are heart warming.

“Just having the people come in and bring the food, I have a hard time keeping it together and not crying, you know, giving everybody hugs,” says Penny.

Non-perishable donations are being accepted at three locations, including Gilligan’s, until Friday:

  • Gilligan’s Bar & Grill, 1985 Velp Ave., Howard. Open daily 10:30 A.M. to bar close
  • TNT Signature Glass Design, 1316 Bellevue St., Green Bay. Drop off 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
  • Harbor Lights, 434 Pennsylvania Ave., Sheboygan

“We’ve received some dog food, some cat food,” Chris says. “Soap, toilet paper, any of the essentials.”

He adds, “Small grills of some sort that they could cook on if they needed to, anything like that would be helpful.”

Money is also welcomed. A fund has been set up at Nicolet National Bank. Monetary donations can be made at any branch. Make checks payable to “Hurricane Ida Relief Fund.”

“We’ll be using that to go and buy product,” Chris explains. “Whatever we have Friday, we’ll evaluate what we need, and then we’ll go and buy and take it with us.”

The plan is to leave Saturday morning with a truck and trailer.

“If we go beyond that, we’ve got volunteers already that have said, hey, we can come and help as well,” Chris says.

The goal is to get there Monday, prioritizing smaller communities that sometimes go the longest without assistance.

“So that’s what we’re going to focus on. We’re not going to focus on the big city, because FEMA and Red Cross and everybody, they’re deployed, they’re covering them, they’re taking care of what they can, so we really want to target those that may not get assistance as quickly,” Chris says.

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