What he didn’t realize was that there were a whole lot of people from Villa Rica and the surrounding area who would be willing to pitch in and help. After securing a tractor-trailer from his dad, Randy Mayfield, and with the help of friends it only took four days to fill up the truck with everything from toiletries to food to clothes and pet supplies donated by individuals and businesses.
“I was at home watching the news and when it first struck I saw that people were devastated. Three or four days into it there were still people who hadn’t been reached and they needed help,” Cody Mayfield said. “Your first instinct when something like that happens is that the American Red Cross or the government is right there helping the people, but there were so many people affected it was hard to get to everybody. I just thought this was my chance to help somebody.”
Sandy devasted the Eastern Seaboard two weeks ago. At its peak, the storm knocked out power to 8.5 million customers in 10 states, with New York and New Jersey bearing the brunt.
Mayfield was perfectly willing to make the trip to New Jersey on his own in a pick-up truck filled with supplies, but he needn’t worry about support. His only problem was the logistics.
When he first approached the Red Cross he was discouraged because of the organization’s various rules and regulations. But Mayfield’s friend, Robin Baker, had family in the area affected by the hurricane and she began making phone calls to the Salvation Army and other organizations.
“They wanted us to take our stuff to the distribution center in Atlanta, and that wasn’t the plan. We meant for this to get to a destination and we wanted to see where it was going,” Baker said. “We didn’t want to just take this stuff to Atlanta and be done with it, not knowing if it actually got to the people who needed help.”
Baker finally achieved that goal when she got in touch with Compassion Services International, which said it would take delivery of the supplies in New Jersey and coordinate the disbursement of goods collected by the Villa Rica community.
“I almost gave up on the trip, but then I thought it shouldn’t matter if a jacket is used or the Gatorade is a month from being expired because if those people need it, they need it,” Mayfield said. “Robin called me back and told me how these things were needed because people were so desperate for the stuff. That just fired me up again so we decided to do it and do it big.”
The effort began with a Facebook post on Nov. 5 asking for supplies. On Tuesday Mayfield and his friends began asking companies for supplies. On Wednesday, they received permission to set up the tractor-trailer at the Villa Rica Walmart and people began donating items straight from their grocery bags.
“It was amazing what people were doing,” Baker said. “Home Depot donated water, we had organizations donate two pallets of dog food and there were six pallets of canned goods. Then we sat all day at Walmart to take up donations and I was amazed at the children who would come out with their stuff to donate so they could feel like they were doing something. We had some older ladies who donated a bunch of handmade quilts. It just became bigger than we ever thought it would.”
By Thursday the truck was full and Nick Gladden, Cody Mayfield, Randy Mayfield and Aubrey Merritt set out on their journey.
“It was just unreal how people came together in the Villa Rica community and I really want to thank everybody who helped out,” Mayfield said. “People brought everything. Even older people who didn’t have much to offer, they were donating their change for fuel money.”
Due to the destruction caused by the storm, those who made the trip to New Jersey weren’t able to go into some of the more devastated areas. But they unloaded the supplies at a local 84 Lumber and in conjunction with Apostolic Tabernacle Church in Egg Harbor Township they helped give out many of the supplies themselves. Goods not given out immediately will be disbursed by the church, which planned to rent trucks to deliver to places where the supplies are most needed.
“It’s hard to describe, but it was like those people had never seen those items before in their lives because they had nothing left,” Mayfield said. “It was by no means a vacation. It really was a trip that made you open up your eyes because people don’t know how good they’ve got it until something like this happens.”