With a little help from a group of Marathon High School graduates, city residents were able to make home improvements and have Thanksgiving dinner early over the weekend.
The MM50 Relief Project, run by five grads who no longer live in Marathon but have been helping the community in the aftermath of Sept. 10’s Hurricane Irma, had a busy weekend starting Saturday in the parking lot of the Hurricane Bar and Grille.
Around 8 a.m., a line of people snaked through the parking lot as seven pallets of fans and lights were pulled out of a U-Haul and piled in parking spots.
MM50 board member Vivi Mira-Culmer, who works in the furnishing industry and now lives in Melbourne, said her Jacksonville client Avenues Lighting donated the supplies. They were given to families still redoing their homes damaged in the Category 4 storm, which hit the Middle and especially Lower Keys with fury.
“So I drove up to Melbourne on Wednesday and came down on Friday, then we had permission from the Hurricane to use the parking lot,” she said.
MM50 efforts continued Sunday in the parking lot at Royal Furniture around mile marker 51, where about 300 turkey dinners were cooked and handed out. The Royal Furniture staff coordinated with the group, donated the food and cooked it on site.
Next, the group is running a toy drive Dec. 16. Stephanie Fenton, one of the five who now lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., said the drive site and time have not been set yet but will be posted on the group’s Facebook page.
“Another group from Maryland is collecting gifts and toys and supplies and bringing them down to distribute on the 16th, so we’re partnering with them on this event,” she said.
Since September, the 501(c)3 nonprofit group has done several supply drives for Marathon, distributed candy behind the Middle Keys airport for that neighborhood’s annual Halloween event and did a fundraising drive for 22 Stanley Switlik Elementary School teachers who “lost everything.”
The group consists of Fenton, Mira-Culmer, Philip Augustine, Krystal Langley and Johnny Moses. Switlik employee Tracy Garcia is not a board member but Fenton said she has distributed supplies out of her garage.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done without her help and her being so selfless,” she said.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219