Coral Springs football team travels to Texas to help Harvey victims

KATY, Texas (WSVN) — A South Florida football team drove all the way to Texas this weekend to deliver truckloads of donations to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

7News cameras captured the Coral Springs Chargers’ U-Haul truck as it pulled into a volunteer fire department in the small town of Katy, Texas, located just west of Houston, Sunday. It was one of six U-Hauls the competitive tackle football club brought to the Lone Star State, all filled with donations from the South Florida community.

All 17 volunteers wore T-shirts with the message “Texas strong,” as they helped bring in supplies into the donation center.

The team partnered up with area volunteer firefighters to unload the trucks’ contents. “It was just insane, the solidarity that the people are showing,” said the Chargers’ Hernando Rocha.

It took just three days to fill the vehicles, and with a South Florida send-off on Friday, the group hit the road for Texas.

But the journey was not without some road blocks. Three separate tire blowouts set the group back hours each time.

“We had to stay on a bridge to change tires, but this is a mission that means so much to us,” said the Chargers’ Emilio Jean-Louis. “We came to help out, and we’re going to finish the job.”

“Nobody’s slept, nobody’s eaten. It’s just — we’re just trying to get here,” said the Chargers’ A.J. Poulin. “We knew they needed us, so we were trying to get here as fast as we could.”

Volunteers kept unloading truck after truck, everything from water, clothes and blankets.

But the fire department said there was one gift from a Hollywood, Florida family that was a specific answer to prayers. “One piece of the puzzle was a boat,” said I-10 Fire Assistant Chief Stephen Hayes.

7News cameras showed the Chargers unloading a white and gray airboat from one of the U-Haul trucks. “Exactly the specs that these gentlemen are bringing here from South Florida,” said Hayes. “Our staff was actually praying for that item last night, and I had not told a soul, and we got the phone call this morning that this boat was coming.”

Along the way, the Chargers have inspired fellow Americans to meet the need. “[A woman] walked up to us at a gas station. She goes, ‘I’m a single mom. I don’t have any money, but I want to give you the $20 I have to take to Houston for the people there,'” said Poulin. “It breaks your heart.”

“A lot of families have lost everything,” echoed Katy resident Shawna Monje. “It really gets to me that y’all are here helping.”

But the Chargers said they’re just the messengers, adding that this trip was made possible by countless South Florida families and their generosity. “We all came together, and if we can achieve this in three days — this small, little group from Coral Springs, Florida — imagine what we can do as an entire community,” said Rocha.

Shortly after the trucks were unloaded, the Chargers began their drive back to South Florida. They said they already have plans in place to continue providing aid for Harvey victims.

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