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    PODs of humanity: Texan support comes from all corners

    PODs of Humanity: Texan support comes from all corners

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tim Beery | Volunteers sort through donations inside Stephen Jackson Academy in Port Arthur, TX....... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Tim Beery 

    128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    PORT ARTHUR, Texas — In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, thousands of Texans find themselves pushing to restore their livelihoods. For many, the first step involves finding access to food and clean water.
    In many cities along the Texas Gulf Coast, potable drinking water remains a rare commodity, and in some locations chest-deep water still abounds. For many, witnessing the struggles and seeing others in need necessitated the coordination of points of distribution (POD) across Southeastern Texas. Led by influential residents, civic leaders, religious leaders and good Samaritans, civilian PODs have popped up across the storm path, and support has been tremendous.
    “We coordinated this to help people” said Danny Crout, a lifetime member of the New Hope Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas. “We were one of the few churches on the west side (of Port Arthur) that didn’t get flooded. We are centrally located in the neighborhood and people can get to us, and they can lean on us in times of need.”
    The New Hope Baptist Church is one of a number of PODs located in Port Arthur, where locals, out-of-staters and National Guard Soldiers have worked long hours bringing in supplies, and passing out food and clothing to residents impacted by the storm.
    “These (PODs) are run solely on a donation basis. These things are just given by kind hearted people,” said Capt. Matthew McCoy, a citizen-Soldier with A Company, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, Oklahoma Army National Guard.
    “A lot of the supplies in these PODs have come from California, and from other parts of the United States,” said McCoy. “They’ve converged here at the New Hope Baptist Church.”
    The role of the National Guard, explained McCoy, is to provide assistance and resources where they are needed, and to facilitate the warehouse distribution of the PODs.
    “We’re really the back office,” said McCoy. “And we’re allowing (citizens) to be the front office and the face of the people.”
    Members of the New Hope Baptist Church are not the only Port Arthur natives to offer their space as a POD facility. Former NBA basketball player Stephen Jackson offered his school as a facility following the displacement of his family due to the storm. Jackson founded the Stephen Jackson Academy during his playing career, and his Jack 1 Foundation has garnered thousands of donations through a grass roots social media campaign.
    “When Stephen saw the devastation that the hurricane caused in Port Arthur, he wanted to give back to the community,” said Judyette Jackson, Stephen’s mother. “He decided to start calling some of his NBA friends, and with his passion, along with the fact that his family is involved, he wanted to make sure Port Arthur is OK.”
    The Jack 1 Foundation has been receiving items on a daily basis since the storm let up, Jackson said.
    “Stephen’s been reaching out through text messages and social media. Stephen has a lot of followers on those things, ” she said. “We’ve been getting stuff dropped off; 18-wheelers have shown up and dropped stuff off here too.”
    As with the New Hope Church, the Jack 1 Foundation has also received help from National Guard Soldiers, and in similar fashion, the help wasn’t directly solicited. Rather, troops found the Stephen Jackson Academy as they were monitoring the greater Port Arthur area looking for people who needed assistance. Unlike the church, the Jackson family was directly impacted by the hurricane and is now living in the school.
    “We lost it all,” said Jackson. “Just like the people who are coming to get stuff, we need it too.”
    Jackson’s foundation has accounts set up where they accept monetary donations, and materials are dropped off at the schoolhouse at all hours. The foundation also feeds people, and supplies pet food for dogs, cats and even livestock.
    National Guard troops simply saw what was happening at the Stephen Jackson Academy as they searched the Greater Port Arthur area, and offered a helping hand to the school.
    “My daughter, Bianca, was standing in front of the building one night and some Soldiers came by,” said Jackson. “One man asked her what we needed, and she said we have a lot of things needed, and they (the Soldiers) said they could help us do whatever we needed.”
    Oklahoma National Guard troops have spent the past few days assisting the Jack 1 Foundation, and even watched the Jackson Academy building one evening as Jackson and her family caught up on some much needed rest.
    Multiple PODs are running 24/7 across Port Arthur and spread throughout Southeastern Texas. Across the state guardsmen are working to deliver food and supplies and offer a hand when needed. As Texas transitions back into day-to-day life, the impact of the PODs and the work completed by civilians and Soldiers is one that will be felt for a very long time.



    Date Taken: 09.10.2017
    Date Posted: 09.10.2017 10:21
    Story ID: 247626
    Location: PORT ARTHUR, TX, US 

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