TBS Community Aids Bahamas with Hurricane Relief Effort


Matthew Marasco

Eighth graders Talia Miller and Taylor Graue pack up boxes of supplies in the maintenance building on September 6, 2019.

The Bahamas are usually a luxurious destination that many people like to travel to for fishing, relaxing on the beach, and/or diving and snorkeling in the beautiful waters, such as those surrounding Andros Barrier Reef. 

However, after hurricane Dorian hit the islands as a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds up to 185 miles per hour on September 1, The Bahamas don’t look anything like the once-beautiful vacation destination. With 50 lives lost, 2,500 people missing, and an estimated $7 billion in total damage, there are currently hundreds of relief efforts underway according to Boston’s NPR site wbur.org.

Matthew Marasco
Eighth grader Robert Letsche tapes up a box of supplies on September 6, 2019 so it can be transported to Witham Airfield in Stuart.

The Benjamin School wasted no time in jumping in to help out. Student Services Coordinator Mrs. Susan Poncy organized a schoolwide drive that encouraged families to bring in non-perishable food, medical supplies, and toiletries just days after the Bahamas was hit. “The supplies are being collected by a grassroots group of local residents who have done this before,” said Poncy during the collection. “They have several big hangers at the Stuart airport from which the donations are to be flown out as soon as conditions are safe to do so. They are working in conjunction with the US Coast Guard, the US and Bahamian Customs, and the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.”

With the island nation being so close to South Florida (Andros Island is approximately 200 miles from North Palm Beach), it was only natural that TBS lend a helping hand. Many people in the TBS community have been there and/or have family and friends in the Bahamas. 

“I took a family vacation over there, and I have a couple of family friends over there,” said sixth-grader Drew Palmer. “They are all safe now though,” 

“I go over to the Bahamas almost every year to different places,” said eighth-grader JP Jacobs. “It is a very fun and beautiful place, and is so sad to see it devastated.”

“The Bahamas are such a beautiful place [and it] is so sad to look at after the damage from the hurricane,” added eighth-grader Sofia Maciel. 

The Bahamas has not had a direct hit from a hurricane of this magnitude since 1932. Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest hurricanes in history as it reached wind gusts up to 225 mph and hovered over the Bahamas for nearly an entire day, moving only one mile per hour at its slowest. There’s no telling how long it will take for the Bahamas to rebuild, but it will be a long and tedious effort that will require help for months, if not years. Hopefully, TBS can continue to support the relief efforts as it did over the past two weeks, donating more than 1,000 pounds of supplies.

An entire truck was filled this week,” said History Department Chair Mrs. Anne Franzen, whose advisory group spearheaded the drive in the Middle School. “Last week, Coach Keller’s Jeep was filled and he took the items to Stuart. [The supplies] are being taken to the Bahamas by a family that has a helicopter,” she said.

Some families are also transporting food and supplies on their own. 

Matthew Marasco
In the maintenance warehouse on the LS/MS Campus, donated supplies wait to be transported to Witham Airfield in Stuart.

“Me and my mom spent $500 dollars at CVS, and we bought supplies, and our friend is taking them on a boat to the Bahamas to give to the people what I have, to help the unfortunate,” said sixth-grader Nikki Walsh.  

“Last Saturday and a second trip Sunday, I went over to West End on my neighbor’s boat fully packed with supplies,” said TBS sophomore Trey Parker. “It was a humbling experience to see all the people so happy to get these supplies, [and] it was also sad to see all the devastation. I hope that all of this helps keeps coming for many more months.” 

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes disasters such as this to remember how important the needs of others are, but it’s something of which we all need to be mindful

“In the end, our lives are measured by how we treated others and what we did to make their lives better,” said Poncy. “This isn’t only when there is a disaster. It is every single day.”