Wewa Woman’s Club collecting donations for first responders battling wildfires

Room 105 at the Port Inn will remain vacant this week.

It has been set aside to house donations collected as part of a drive benefiting emergency personnel responding to wildfires that have burned more than 29,000 acres in the Florida Panhandle since Friday.

“We put the word out and have a collection point in Wewahitchka, at Fisher’s Building Supply, and one in Port St. Joe, here at the Port Inn,” said LaDonna Whitfield, the Inn’s general manager. 

“We’re gathering up supplies, and we’ll deliver the first of them on Wednesday.”

The Wewahitchka Woman’s Club, who are facilitating the donations and their distribution, ask  that individuals donate snack-type foods that will be easy to eat on the go.

“We were told there’s not always time for them to sit down and have a good meal,” Whitfield said. “They said it would be great if they had some snack-type items – you know, things to grab.”

Snack bars, fruit, crackers, vienna sausages, gatorade, candy and other similar products will all suffice, she continued.

The Woman’s Club is also collecting baby wipes, hand sanitizer, eyedrops, nose spray and other easy to carry items that will help first responders stay clean and healthy.

Whitfield said Monday that the Woman’s Club was hoping to provide the majority of the donations to crews who might have a more difficult time accessing donations from the large drive being held in Panama City.

“We’re reaching out to some of the smaller outlying areas, like I’ve been in contact with Bear Creek Assembly of God Church,” she said. “We’re trying to get up with some of the smaller fire departments and locations that might get missed.”

The drive’s first round of supplies was delivered to first responders on Wednesday, but Whitfield says that the Woman’s Club will continue the donation drive as long as need persists.

Donations can be dropped off at the Port Inn or at Fisher’s Building Supply in Wewahitchka.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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