WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (December 13, 2019) – The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA), The City of West Palm Beach and Eagles’ Wings Foundation (EWF) are encouraging visitors to Clematis by Night to “Fill the Boat” with toys and supplies for children and families in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian. Between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 19, a large volunteer vessel will be docked at the West Palm Beach waterfront. Members of Volunteers of the Palm Beaches will be accepting new, wrapped toys to be shipped to Great Abaco, Bahamas, in time for Christmas. All donated toys should be labeled with an age range for the recipient of the toy so volunteers can sort them prior to their delivery to Abaco.
“It’s not smooth sailing in the Bahamas yet,” said Scott Lewis, President and Founder of EWF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that specializes in disaster relief efforts. “Running water is still unavailable to most of the island, and the kids are not back to school on a regular basis yet. This toy drive is our small effort to help the families of Abaco enjoy some sense of normalcy this holiday season.”
Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas over three months ago, when the category 5 storm stalled over Grand Bahama and Great Abaco island, killing at least 60 people and leaving thousands more displaced. While parts of the two islands have begun to rebuild, harder-hit areas like Marsh Harbor still are working to remove about 1.9 million yards of cubic debris. Organizations like EWF continue to provide aid to the region; in the past two months alone, EWF has sent over 24 shipping containers and an additional 150 tons of supplies to the island, but the need for support continues.
EWF is a multi-faith certified public foundation, and 100% of donations go to relief efforts. There are no paid staff members. Lewis and his organization are very well known for the immediate response and high impact relief efforts following disasters in the Caribbean and Bahamas, including the Haiti Earthquake of 2010, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and Hurricane Ike in 2008, among others. The group has also provided relief efforts in the United States following Hurricane Katrina, Fukushima, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“West Palm Beach has close ties to the Bahamas and to Eagles’ Wings Foundation,” said Raphael Clemente, Executive Director of the DDA, which is assisting EWF’s efforts. “Like many of our residents, the DDA feels called to do everything we can to help the people of Abaco as they continue to recover from Hurricane Dorian. A toy drive seemed like a natural extension of that desire this holiday season.” In addition to the DDA, DowntownWPB businesses like Rocco’s Tacos and Duffy’s are also throwing into support “Fill the Boat.”
While the toys are an important aspect of recovery, EWF is also still accepting monetary donations and building materials that can assist directly with their efforts to rebuild the Abaco community.
About the Downtown Development Authority
The West Palm Beach DDA is an independent taxing district created in 1967 by a special act of the Florida Legislature. Its mission is to promote and enhance a safe, vibrant Downtown for our residents, businesses and visitors through the strategic development of economic, social and cultural opportunities.
For more information about the DDA or Downtown West Palm Beach, please visit downtownwpb.com or call the DDA at (561) 833-8873.