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Local woman organizes donation drive for hurricane victims
Turlocker donation pic
Jaelyn Popolizio gathered enough donations from the community for victims of Hurricane Harvey to fill a van provided by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which she will drive to Oakland International Airport for delivery on Saturday. - photo by Photo Contributed

When Turlocker Jaelyn Popolizio turned on the news to see the devastation in Texas left behind by Hurricane Harvey, she took to Facebook with a request for her friends.

“I need your help!” her post began.

Inspired to help those in Houston and surrounding areas who have been affected by massive flooding, some of whom Popolizio and her friends know personally, she said, the local mortgage lender organized a donation drive, gathering clothing and other necessities to send to the Lone Star State.

Popolizio called upon her Facebook friends to donate children’s items, like diapers, baby wipes, toys and school supplies, as well as other items, such as blankets, toothbrushes and paper towels, all of which will be flown to Houston thanks to a connection she was able to make with an employee of Southwest Airlines.

At the most, Popolizio was expecting two or three boxes of donations, but her Facebook post resulted in enough donations to fill an entire van. The outpouring of support from the community came as a pleasant surprise, she said.

“I got an overwhelming response, and I’m just so grateful for people who have seen my post and offered to donate,” said Popolizio. “I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to take all the stuff.”

Thanks to Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Turlock, Popolizio will have a van to drive donations to the Oakland International Airport on Saturday. Once the supplies arrive in Houston, they will be immediately delivered to those who need them most.

“I have some close friends whose friends and family have been affected by this, and they were told to just stand on their countertops until someone could come rescue them. They lost everything,” said Popolizio. “Other organizations determine where their donations go, so I wanted to make sure that this stuff goes directly to the most affected areas.”

Memorial Hospital Los Banos is another local organization which donated to the cause, providing toilet paper, towels and antibacterial wipes. Seeing Turlock and its surrounding communities come together to help those in need has been one of the most rewarding things about this donation drive, said Popolizio.

“There has been a lot of division in communities with all of the racial stuff, and I feel like we’ve really all been able to come together and put that aside for the benefit of people that truly need it,” she said. “We’re all human. We’re all people. Why all this negativity? Come together for good.”