Chicago man fills up trucks with donations for Florida victims

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CHICAGO -- As Florida begins to deal with the impact of this major hurricane, people in the Chicago area are already thinking of ways to help out.

One man on the Northwest Side is on a mission to collect supplies for hurricane survivors and deliver them to Florida himself.

Mauricio Romy was collecting food and water for hurricane victims all day Saturday and said he’ll be at St. Hillary’s Catholic Church until his truck is full.

It was a busy day in the parking lot for people trying to help those affected by the hurricane

“There’s always something going on in this parking lot,” Christine Matsunaga said.

In the parking lot at St. Hillary Catholic Parish, the annual car wash usually brings in money for the school, but this year the school decided there was a more pressing cause. They’re splitting the proceeds with the hurricane survivors.

“We have more than we ever need, and these are people who are losing everything, so for us to come together and give back – that’s what we do,” Kathie Donovan, the school’s principal, said.

Money raised will go to help Hurricane Irma survivors, but one vehicle in the parking lot wasn’t there to be washed.

“I want to see this truck full, and the sooner the better,” Romy said.

Romy’s truck was there to be filled with items hurricane survivors may need such as water, canned food and personal hygiene items.

Romy, a member of the parish and a parent at the school, was running a donation drive. He plans to drive the truck himself – 21 hours from Illinois to Florida – right into the disaster zone.

“It’s really sad and scary. The state’s helping out, but there’s only so much they can do,” Romy said.

People dropped off the most needed items – water and other supplies like toiletries and diapers.

“I think what’s happening here is great because people are going to need this stuff, and every little bit help,” Jay Stevenson said.

Romy spent most of his childhood in south Florida before moving to Chicago, so he said he feels a personal connection to the people in Irma’s path.

“I have many friends who were not able to leave the state early enough,” he said.

And as the storm barrels across Florida, Romy and the others at St. Hillary want to send a message – along with supplies -- from a school parking lot to the sunshine state.

“Kindness. I see it in a way that spreads out, so if one person is doing it, I know for a fact it’s going to have a chain effect – you can see it, just by seeing people bringing supplies (food and water) it’s proven that one person can start a movement,” Romy said.

Romy plans to leave Monday morning and parish officials said they think more donations will come before and after mass on Sunday.

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