West Virginia aid effort in valley is growing

Kristi Estep, left, and her daughter Sara Snow, 11, of Mount Jackson, look at cases of non-perishable foods Wednesday at the Mount Jackson Save-A-Lot grocery store. The food can be donated to West Virginia flood victims. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Shenandoah Valley’s response to flooding in West Virginia is continuing to grow.

Mark Linski, owner of the Save-A-Lot supermarket in Mount Jackson, is working with the Toms Brook Volunteer Fire Department as well as Valley Towing and JPG Towing, which will be transporting the donated items to flood victims.

“What we are doing is that we have specific items like a case of green beans or a case of peanut butter, miscellaneous things like that that we have a full case price on and we are matching the first $1,000 of donations at our store,” Linski said.

Any shoppers who want to help out will be given a card at the store with eligible items.

Linski said he does not have family in West Virginia.

“We just wanted to help out,” he said. “I was in West Virginia last weekend, basically the day after it happened and we noticed only a small amount of the devastation from where we were and we just wanted to get involved and help out.”

The Toms Brook Volunteer Fire Department has already sent a truckload of relief items to Lewisburg, West Virginia. Upon its return it will be refilled, with the second load heading to Belle, West Virginia.

Penny Shipe, secretary for the department who is organizing the department’s relief effort, said that 50,000 diapers were in the first truckload, and pallets of bleach and items from Rubbermaid are due to arrive at the fire department in the next day or two.

In Rappahannock County, the Chester Gap Volunteer Fire Department has joined the cause and will be accepting donations at its building. First responder Shane Heater said the department prefers item donations but will accept cash, which will be used to purchase needed items.

“What we’re trying to do is load the truck with whatever people want to donate and get it to West Virginia,” Heater said, “and we’re hoping that truck will leave by Saturday, and if we get enough we’d like to send another truck – non-perishable items, of course.”

Heater, who said most of his family members are West Virginians, described their efforts as simply an attempt to be good neighbors.

“I’m sure that if a lot of those victims, if it happened here, they would donate to us,” he said. “Like a lot of us here – we don’t have a whole lot but we’re trying our best to help out.”

Chester Gap Volunteer Fire Department President Chris Ubben said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from those in the area.

“Every day it seems like somebody else is signing on board, Ubben said.

He said if they get more donations that can fill up a utility truck at the department, “then we’ll get something else. It’s a matter of how much we can get involved. We’re just trying to coordinate everything.”

Ubben said that he and others have been working with the South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Company in Inwood, West Virginia. The items from Chester Gap and other Rappahannock County efforts will be brought to that fire department and will be distributed to areas in need from there.

“It’s still growing,” Ubben said. “The Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office will be accepting donations at the fireworks show. The Rappahannock County Public Schools will be trying to fill a bus. The fire department is holding and storing everything at Chester Gap Fire Department.”


• The Save-A-Lot supermarket is located at 5836 Main St. in Mount Jackson. Phone: 540-477-3318.

• The Chester Gap Volunteer Fire Department is located at 42 Waterfall Road, Chester Gap.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com