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Baldwin community rallies to support communities in Puerto Rico

Volunteers in the community went door to door to get any generous donations from neighbors - many of which barely have the necessities they need to get by.

LAKE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) — It’s been three months since hurricane Maria left much of Puerto Rico in ruins. A community in Lake County is coming together to give some assistance.

For several days, people in the Baldwin worked to get clothes donations to send to the Lares community in Puerto Rico. On Wednesday, more than two dozen people helped wash and dry the donated clothes.

“Real poverty isn’t being unfed, unclothed and unsheltered, real poverty is being unwanted unloved and uncared for,” said Paul Betts, a community activist. "These people are going to show that we care, and we love and we want you.”

Hundreds of donations were made by local organizations and churches.

Volunteers in the community went door to door to get any generous donations from neighbors - many of which barely have the necessities they need to get by.

“This county is recognized as one of the poorest counties in the state,” Betts said. “So our community is making a challenge to every other community in the United States, you matter and you can make a difference.”

A majority of the people helping and making donations Wednesday work with the Bread of Life Pantry Line and those who seek food assistance from the pantry. The Bread of Life Pantry Line offers food to people in need in the community.

Julie Simmons worked at the former Early Bird Free Store where people in need of items could go for any necessities. The store was shut down because of financial difficulties, but Simmons says she knows the people in the community well and their needs.

“They know they will help someone else and if they can help someone else out, then that would be alright because they can wait til it’s their turn because we are all like a big family in Lake County,” Simmons said.

Joy Sheets owns the Baldwin Coin Wash where the group washed donated clothes. Sheets took care of all the expenses for the laundry.

“It’s unbelievable the lengths that people have gone to, they’ve been driving all over the place and talking to people to get donations,” Sheets said. “I’m just thankful to be in this community.”

The group also accepted Christmas donations to send as well.

“People are even donating Christmas ornaments to give them the joy of Christmas,” Betts said. "This is a town of big-hearted people.”

Other donations like soap, tooth brushes and stuffed animals were also dropped off. The donations will be shipped sometime in the next week.

Pack Mail in Grand Rapids donated boxes to ship the clothes and items. International Aid based in Muskegon told the group they would handle all the logistics and transportation costs and needs.

If you want to donate you can contact the Bread of Life Pantry Line at 231-745-7997.

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