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Paying it forward

Local church collects goods for storm-worn Bahamians


In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian left destruction in its wake across the Bahamas, leaving thousands homeless and more than $4 billion in damage. A local church is looking to lend a hand to the devastated region and those who call it home through a ministry called Pay It Forward Bahamas.

Mike Vest is heading up efforts at the Oak Ridge Methodist Church in Hartselle. Church members are collecting building supplies to ship to the Bahamas through their Disaster Warehouse in Decatur.

Vest said his contacts on the islands are still dealing with the effects of the natural disaster several months later, and he hopes they can benefit from the church’s efforts.

“We’re filling a container full of building supplies and tools to help rebuild the area,” he said. “It’s going to take money, of course, to get the container down there, so in addition to the materials, we’re also accepting monetary donations.

“They’re asking for 400 sheets of sheetrock, and we know that one church can’t handle that by itself,” Vest added. “There’s no way my church could buy 400 sheets of sheetrock, so we’re looking to find groups of people, other smaller churches and individuals who could provide five doors or 50 sheets of sheetrock or other materials.

“If we get the money for those materials, or the material itself, to the Disaster Warehouse, I can have them shipped to the Bahamas.”

Vest said through his work with the ministry, he has made contacts that will help Oak Ridge UMC accomplish its goals.

“Through part of this ministry also, and through this project, I have met a gentleman at Home Depot in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. His name is Carlos, and his specialty is exports to the Bahamas,” Vest said. “He said what Home Depot will do is, any supplies I buy that are designated for that Bahamian ministry will be palatized by Home Depot and delivered to the port for us so that all we would have to pay for are portage costs.”

Vest said the cutoff for the first shipment will be toward the end of the month so that the first container can be shipped and received by the end of February.

Most-needed items are sheetrock, plywood, penny nails, roof shingles, roofing cement, joint compound and more. Tools such as shop vacuums, generators, wheelbarrows, shovels and rakes, among others, are also being accepted.

The Disaster Warehouse is located at 3220 Highway 31 S., Building F, in Decatur.

For more information on donating, contact Vest at 256-565-1784.