TUPELO • What started out as a simple favor turned into a full on donation effort to get relief supplies to the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. Organizers for Tupelo is Taking Care of the Bahamas (TCB) prepared supplies for shipment Wednesday.

Organizer Leslie Pearman said the first relief load consisted of one and a half truck loads worth of canned food, wipes, water, food, clothes and teddy bears. The first load was collected so swiftly that organizers were able to send a shipment out Saturday, and Pearman said it should have arrived by Wednesday morning.

Tupelo is TCB started shortly after airplane owner Rob Hollander asked to bring his plane from Florida to Tupelo due to Hurricane Dorian concerns, Pearman said. Hollander offered to pay for airplane fuel and fly supplies to people in need in the Bahamas if she and husband Aubie Pearman would fill it. This was the couple’s first time organizing a relief effort such as this.

“We have been to the Bahamas many years ago vacationing and we just felt like we needed to help,” Pearman said.

From that point on, it became a word-of-mouth and social media effort. A Facebook page for the group was set up on Sept. 3. Pearman named John Turner, chief of maintenance for North Mississippi Medical Center, and Laura Watson of Lakeview Baptist Church as two other primary organizers. Turner assisted in helping collect a number of monetary donations and filling in calls about donations. Watson gathered donations from her church and also took seniors from the Lakewood Baptist Academy shopping for additional water and wipes when monetary donations were received.

A partnership with Heart to Heart International medical team will allow Tupelo is TCB to help load Wednesday’s load of supplies directly to the Treasure Cay, Bahamas. Tupelo is TCB also partnered with Operation Airdrop, a Texas-based nonprofit that helps coordinate disaster relief following a natural disaster by flying essentials in when roadways and ground vehicles cannot reach affected communities.

The second load of supplies will place more emphasis on medical supplies, such as dust masks, rubber gloves, ace bandages, over the counter pain relievers, Neosporin and Vicks Vapor Rub. Pearman said she partnered with Eight Days of Hope, a nonprofit Christian organization, to ship several relief donation supplies.

Eight Days of Hope announced Tuesday it would ship relief supplies to the Bahamas, and on the organization’s website, it announced plans to provide water filtration systems to hundreds of churches, community centers and families to help access to clean water and provide hurricane-resistant building materials once rebuilding starts. It plans to send supplies out within the next week.

About $2,000 in monetary donations was raised. Among large donors were American Control Technology, which donated $1,000, Moms Against Hunger and Home Front Ministries Pontotoc.

Other donors include Bread of Life Church Amory, Air Methods, Mississippi University for Women RN-to-BSN Nursing Program, United Methodist District, Tupelo Bank Plus and multiple individual donors.

“Everyone’s been great. They’ve generously gone and gotten food and supplies and brought them in,” Pearman said.

Pearman said Tupelo is TCB plans to take donations for another week. After Wednesday’s load, the plan is to either find another plane to fill or send supplies with Eight Days of Hope. Eight Days of Hope announced on its website that they expect their “outreach to the Bahamas to continue for months” and will continue taking donations.

“I hope they don’t feel like they’re forgotten. We’re all here working for them and praying for them and hoping they get to rebuild,” Pearman said.

danny.mcarthur@journalinc.com

Twitter: @Danny_McArthur_

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