South Florida volunteers head north to deliver essentials to Michael victims

AVENTURA, FLA. (WSVN) - - A team of volunteers is headed to North Florida with truckloads of essentials collected for the victims of Hurricane Michael.

The City of Aventura is among many places in South Florida that stepped up to help thousands of people in need.

Six trucks were loaded up Wednesday morning and are ready to make two stops in the Florida Panhandle, Panama City and Mexico Beach.

“There’s a lot of people up there that are suffering,” said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez. “There’s a lot of people that are suffering.”

FHP will be escorting the trucks to make sure the drive up is as efficient as possible.

“We’re escorting these trucks full of supplies,” said Sanchez, “trying to get up there safely and as quickly as possible to people that are waiting for it. They’re waiting for water, they’re waiting for supplies. It’s just a community out pour. This is what America is all about.”

Members of the community have been stopping by Aventura Mall to drop off necessities such as water, batteries, diapers, flashlights and much more. Hundreds of donations have been coming in since the weekend.

“We had a little girl yesterday who used her own money to buy some dog food for the pets that are up there in the Panhandle, so it really touched a lot of hearts,” said Anabel Llopis. “We can relate so easily to the despair and the frustration when you go through a hurricane and the aftermath, so it really was nice to see the community pull together to donate.”

Volunteers hit the road at 6 a.m., and for one of the drivers, this hits home. “I myself know a little too well the struggle of rebuilding,” said Zachary Schaubhut. “After Katrina, I was a senior in high school, so this kind of touched my heart, and I definitely wanted to be included in this.”

The relief efforts were set up by Aventura Police, the mall itself, iHeartRadio and other organizations. For many of the officers and volunteers involved, this trip is about giving back.

“We know what happens during a devastating hurricane here, and the one thing we look forward to after a disaster is the help that comes from all the different law enforcement agencies, literally from all over the country,” said Aventura Police Sgt. Chris Goranitis, “so any change you get to give back, you take it and you do it so gladly.”

“People were so, so generous to us,” Goranitis added.

Supply collections are also in full effect in Pembroke Park, where Feeding South Florida is collecting essentials for the Panhandle.

Alain St. Juste is one of the truck drivers heading up north from the Feeding South Florida headquarters.

“I’m headed to Tallahassee today, Tallahassee and Pensacola,” he said. “I think it will be exciting, it will be fun. People will be excited to see me, and I’ll be happy to see them too at the same time.”

“I just got back from New Jersey, so this is nothing,” Good Greek Moving and Storage driver Zachary Schaubhut said.

If you would like to donate to help the victims, click here for more information.

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