Skeeter Barnes and more stepping up to help flood victims

March 20, 2019

It was a sight to see.

On Monday, the party room at Skeeter Barnes, 510 E. 23rd St. in Columbus, was loaded with clothing and shoes for men, women and children. There were also plenty of cleaning supplies, toiletries, blankets, bottled water, dry goods and more. All of the items were donated by Skeeter Barnes staff and dozens of people from the community who got involved after the local restaurant made a post on Facebook days ago announcing it would collect any items for flood victims and make sure they got into the right hands.

“If that were me, I would want any other neighbor to help us out,” Skeeter Barnes General Manager Nicky Fritton said, noting the donations will be given to those in communities that were hit hard by historic flooding in the last week like Fremont, North Bend and Omaha. “We’re doing this out of the generosity of our hearts … I know what it is like to go without nothing; you don’t want to see your neighbor go without nothing.”

Fritton said she wasn’t exactly sure what would happen when the flooding began last week but noted the significant flooding really hit home when North Bend was affected. She said her heart broke when she saw homes getting ripped away from their foundations, among other things.

“Once it hit North Bend, it was more realistic,” she said, noting she didn’t think it was going to stop.

Fritton soon after said she decided to talk with her team members at the barbecue restaurant/steakhouse about organizing some kind of fundraiser for flood victims, noting they were all very supportive when she made the suggestion.

“Honestly, we all have a really big heart,” Skeeter Barnes Supervisor/Server Mckayla Wolf said. “Seeing how badly our communities were affected it made me want to do something – anything we possibly could.”

Skeeter Barnes put up a post announcing the fundraiser effort late last week, and since then, the community has been highly supportive by donating all sorts of items during restaurant hours (10 a.m.-10 p.m. each day).

“We have it pretty much all here,” Fritton said. “The party room is filling and filling.”

Skeeter Barnes is a member of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, and its president, Jeanne Schieffer, praised the local restaurant’s staff for their fundraiser. She said the efforts of Skeeter Barnes and so many other individuals, businesses and nonprofits just play into Columbus’ motto “Something Good.”

“In addition to relief efforts and support offered by churches, nonprofits and emergency or relief organizations, the Columbus Chamber is seeing local and area businesses offering special discounts, sponsoring clothing and food drives and holding unique events to recognize those impacted by the flood,” she said. “Such cooperation and readiness reflect the spirit and strength of this community.”

1C Church, The Salvation Army, Simon House, as well as Eternal Tattoo & Body Piercing are among the many organizations volunteering time and making donations to help area flood victims. Columbus Public Schools and Scotus Central Catholic High School also have gotten efforts underway (see more on this in the Thursday, March 21 edition).

Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley also previously announced the creation of the Columbus/ Platte County Area Disaster Fund through First National Bank, where monetary donations can be made.

The two restaurant leaders said donations were being given out while new ones were steadily coming in, noting the restaurant’s initiative would continue as long as items continued to come. They said they’re also willing to take supplies to anyone who cannot get out of their homes due to flood damage.

The support from the community is highly appreciated, they stressed.

“It’s phenomenal, honestly. It’s beyond amazing seeing how well our communities have come together out of the kindness of their hearts,” Wolf said.

Fritton had a similar perspective.

“It means everything, it means the world,” she said. “It just shows there are good people out there. Everyone comes together as a team. This just shows a tragic event can bring the community together.”

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.

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