WKU, Bowling Green assist with Harvey relief

Emily DeLetter

Organizations from around WKU’s campus and the city of Bowling Green have made donations to help relief efforts in Houston, following heavy flooding from Hurricane Harvey last week.

On-campus ministry Hilltoppers for Christ held a drive that began with clothes, but quickly expanded to more essential items.

Led by WKU senior David Walls, the drive collected clothing, baby wipes, diapers, and bottled water to send to Houston.

“We started off with just clothes,” Walls said. “But the more I researched, the more I found that there was a larger need for diapers and other items like that.”

The donations were gathered and sent to Stompin Grounds Bar and Grill in Austin, Texas. The restaurant is collecting donations from around the country to spread around the affected area.

Items from the Hilltoppers for Christ drive also went with members going to Houston from their sponsoring church, Greenwood Park Church of Christ.

Walls said that people and local businesses have been donating, and he has no plans to cap donations for now.

“We want to continue gathering donations for as long as they’re needed,” Walls said. “I have no deadline or end date in mind.”

Sergeant Rafael Casas, from the local chapter of the Bowling Green Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 13, collected cases of laundry detergent, fabric softener, food and cleaning supplies.

Lodge president Shawn Helbig said Casas reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police to gather some donations.

“We were more than happy to help him out with what he needed,” Helbig said. “We had a large amount of cleaning supplies on hand, and we also provided tarps and fuel money.”

Casas, who has family living in Houston, also received aid from his church and other groups.

The Bowling Green Fraternal Order of Police does not have any other drives going on at the moment, Helbig said, but the national chapter recently gave $100,000 to help with relief efforts.

The WKU Baseball program recently sent several boxes of clothing to the University of Houston. Assistant Coach Tommy Winterstein said he felt a personal connection to the flooding in Texas and wanted to do all that he could to help.

“I was living in Colombia, South Carolina a few years ago when we had a hurricane and flood,” Winterstein said. “I had friends from high school that lost their homes. I able to somewhat understand what these people are going through.”

Responding to tweets from the University of Houston baseball program, Winterstein gathered around five boxes of extra gear from the baseball team. Practice gear, t-shirts, and shorts were some of the items included with the donation sent Thursday.

“We sent everything we had,” Winterstein said. “If I found anymore, I would send it immediately.”

Head coach John Pawlowski said he fully supported Winterstein’s collection.

“In times of need we all have to be good stewards of the gifts and blessings we have,” Pawlowski said. “This is a difficult situation, and when people have the resources to help, we need to do so in any way we can.”

Reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected].