A Quad Cities woman is making sure kids in the U.S. Virgin Islands will have something to open on Christmas morning.
Nearly two months after Hurricane Maria destroyed many parts of the area people are still struggling.
FEMA reports only about 75,000 cubic yards of storm-related debris has been cleared so far.
Officials estimate there was more than 1 million cubic yards of debris.
After living on the Virgin Islands for almost two years Anna describes the conditions.
“No lights no running water, mosquitos are horrifying and you’ve lost everything you own,” DeFrieze said.
Anna’s son Harold DeFrieze has lived in St.Thomas for nearly 10 years and still remains on the Island even after the disastrous storm sending video of the aftermath.
He said they are still without power running on generators.
“For a lot of us our lives are just on hold we’re not doing what we did before,” DeFrieze said. “We’re just doing everything we can to help the community and help the Island get back on its feet,” said DeFrieze. “There’s really no other option,” said DeFrieze.
With December just around the corner and the holidays approaching, both started thinking about Christmas.
Harold and Anna said the people there have lost so much already they don’t want them to miss out on Christmas as well.
“We started doing just a small toy donation drive here on island but it’s hard because the resources are so small we have K-mart and that’s really it.” DeFrieze said.
“There’s already a limited supply of toys on island for the kids in the first place so I figured I’d reach out to my home town and see if anybody could help me,” said DeFrieze. “My mom has been doing an amazing job on her own,” he said.
Anna and her son have gotten to know the people and the culture.
She said she has made several trips to multiple stores clearing shelves and racking up thousands of dollars of her own money.
Still she said money doesn’t matter.
“No, nope it doesn’t,” DeFrieze said. “I mean of course I can’t buy hundred dollar toys but you can buy a lot of games and a lot of toys that will go a long way,” said DeFrieze.
Meanwhile during one of DeFrieze’s shopping sprees she met Kari Beswick a meeting neither one will soon forget.
Kari was so touched by the gesture she wanted to be apart of it and pitched in to buy half of DeFrieze’s cart.
“Giving at Christmas time means a lot to me because at one point I didn’t have much money,” Beswick said. “Christmas was tough for me and my girls so now that I’m able to do it I just want to help and give back,” said Beswick.
If you would like to donate or get involved contact:
312 Broadway St, Colona, IL 61241
Harold DeFrieze (Toy Drive)
7200 Regatta Point Unit 3B
St. Thomas USVI 00802