Convoy from Swoyersville garage headed to Texas with donations in tow

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected] | August 30th, 2017 9:52 pm

SWOYERSVILLE — With the Harvey storm causing devastating damage in Texas, the folks at a local garage decided they couldn’t just stand by and do nothing.

So, they decided to not only collect donations for victims of the historic flooding, they will be driving to the Lone Star State to deliver the goods in person and also staying there to help recovery efforts.

Grease Monkey Garage Inc., based on Main Street in Swoyersville, has been collecting clothes and other necessities since Monday.

The idea was sparked by company president Joe Russell, 39, of Exeter, who asked wife Raquel on Monday to seek donations on the company’s Facebook page.

“Since then, we’ve had so many responses,” said Raquel, 27.

The post has garnered nearly 100 comments and, as of press time, has been shared over 450 times by other Facebook users.

And that doesn’t even begin to describe the amount of donations that have been dropped off at the garage, including clothes, toiletries, baby food and pet supplies. “Basically, everything but furniture,” Raquel noted.

The donations are coming from a variety of sources, including local Boy Scout troops, local sports teams like the Pittston Junior Patriots and even from fire companies in Bradford County.

“People are coming from two hours away to help out,” Raquel said.

Enough supplies have been donated that eight trucks are necessary to bring everything to Texas. Grease Monkey is sending a convoy of five vehicles (three flatbeds and two pickups), and they’ll be joined by three vehicles from VPR Motors, based in Sugar Notch.

A crew from Grease Monkey — including Joe while wife Raquel stays home to take care of the couple’s seven children — plans on staying in Texas for at least a month or two to help residents of Houston and the surrounding areas with the cleanup.

“We’re going to work for a few months,” Joe said. “This is one of the worst tragedies America has ever seen. I just want to help.”

The Russells said it’s still unclear where they’re going to take the supplies, and where the convoy will actually stay when they get there. But they’ve been working hard reaching out to ministries and donation centers to hammer out the details. Joe is determined to help no matter what.

“If I have to camp on the side of the highway, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

Paula Barber, 41, of Edwardsville, was at the garage Wednesday afternoon dropping off donations from the employees of FNB Equipment Finance. She praised the work being done by Grease Monkey.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” Barber said. “It shows this is a valley with a heart.”

Barber planned on coming back with more donations from her own home and from her family, saying she was going through her son’s clothes and planned on bringing items that no longer fit him.

“I wish I could go to Texas with them,” she added.

As for when the convoy is heading south, the plans are a bit up in the air. Raquel said the initial idea was to leave this coming Monday night or Tuesday morning. But Joe said after the addition of VPR Motors to the relief effort, orchestrating the trip might take more time. Now, he wants to leave by next Friday at the latest.

Tom Garrett and Heather Hill carry donations for Harvey storm victims into the Grease Monkey Garage in Swoyersville on Wednesday while Stanley Piontkowski and Joe Russell await even more items. A steady stream of people entered the garage to drop off goods for the victims of the historic flooding in Texas.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/web1_TTL083117Donations1.jpgTom Garrett and Heather Hill carry donations for Harvey storm victims into the Grease Monkey Garage in Swoyersville on Wednesday while Stanley Piontkowski and Joe Russell await even more items. A steady stream of people entered the garage to drop off goods for the victims of the historic flooding in Texas.
Raquel Russell, Heather Hill and Pat Slempa sort and pack clothing donated for Harvey victims.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/web1_TTL083117Donations2.jpgRaquel Russell, Heather Hill and Pat Slempa sort and pack clothing donated for Harvey victims.

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6119 or on Twitter @PatKernan


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