How to help in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

PHOENIX - As the saying goes, it's what's on the inside that counts. But, maybe the outside of boxes at Saint Mary's Food Bank are just as meaningful.

Employees there are spending time writing out notes and prayers of support for those suffering through Hurricane Harvey on boxes full of 400 pounds worth of hygiene products. They are sending nearly 30 boxes in all.

"The people of Texas need this," said Tom Kertis. "So, we're sending it to them."

Kertis, the CEO of Saint Mary's, said even though this is a very difficult season for donations for the food bank, they have to take action during emergencies like this.

"People have had to abandon their homes and leave everything," Kertis said. "And they don't have any of these items."

Along with those hygiene products, Kertis said they are also sending food for first responders. But, since they are sending all of this out of state, Saint Mary's needs your help to replenish their supply.

You can make an online donation or drop off food or hygiene products to any of the more than 70 Goodwill locations around the Valley.

While their operation is on a much larger scale, everyday people in Arizona have found ways to help out too.

"It puts you on edge a little bit to see what the destruction of the town is," said Nick Ustruck.

Ustruck works for M Culinary Concepts in Phoenix, but he grew up in Texas.

Ustruck said he had planned on gathering everything on his own and driving there with his wife, but the company told him to take whatever supplies he needed.

"Hand wash stations, coolers loaded with food, 200 gallons of water," Ustruck said, rattling off the items inside his truck and trailer.

He still has family and friends who live there, so all of this is very personal.

"Really, it's just about going down there to help out the people that we grew up with and helping them get to the closest thing to normality for the time being," Ustruck said.

As for what you can do, Regional Communications Officer with the American Red Cross Colin Williams tells ABC15, that while he appreciates people calling in to donate food or clothes, money is truly what they need right now.

If you want to help in a different way, United Blood Services is putting out the call to the public to donate blood. They tell us, blood collections have been stopped in Houston. While, both Arizona and Nevada provided blood supplies ahead of the storm, there is still a strong need that continues to grow.

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