With all the negative news concerning relief efforts in the Caribbean after Hurricane Dorian, it’s nice to hear about a few good people who are willing to help.
Looking forward to her October wedding, 24-year-old Rikki Kahley made plans for the ultimate bachelorette party in the Bahamas. However, Hurricane Dorian crushed the islands just before her planned trip, leaving her thinking it might just be better to cancel.
Kahley called the Baha Mar resort in Nassau, where she had made reservations, with intentions to cancel. But the hotel ensured that the storm had left them unscathed, and they wouldn’t have any issues. Luckily, the storm had spared Nassau, along with about 14 other islands belonging to the Bahamas.
“When we called they said: ‘Please don’t cancel, we need your tourism,’” Sandy Kahley, Rikki’s mother told CNN. “The lady I spoke with was crying.”
A change in plans
So Kahley decided to continue with her plans– but with a slight twist. When she and her nine friends walked into the Atlanta airport ready to travel, they had 40 suitcases in tow, filled with donations. Instead of packing dresses and swimwear for a week of partying, Kahley and her friends brought thousands of dollars in food and clothing for those affected by the storm.
It was Chloe, the bride’s sister, who had suggested the shift in purpose.
“The main reason I wanted to take supplies down was because I have everything I need plus more,” Chloe Kahley told USA TODAY in a statement. “The Bahamians had nothing after the hurricane hit. I felt like God was using me and my resources to help them.”
Sandy Gibbs Kahley, the girls’ mother, said that the bridal party immediately began to collect donations.
“We started a Facebook post that we had decided to go ahead and go on the trip but wanted to turn it into somewhat of a mission trip,” she told USA TODAY.
Donations pile in
It took the girls three days to pack up all the donations that rolled in– clothing, personal hygiene goods, and non-perishable food filled the Kahley’s living room and kitchen. There were so many items, the Kahley family decided to ship some of them to the Bahamas later on. Delta offered to carry some extra luggage onboard for free.
Once the girls arrived, Baha Mar shuttled them and all the suitcases to the resort from the airport, and helped distribute the supplies to those in need. As it turns out, the resort had already set up a small charity foundation to help the islands battered by Hurricane Dorian. But they could hardly believe their ears when Kahley told them she wanted to pack donations instead of party goods.
“They were so shocked that we were even doing that,” Kahley said.
“Our experience was great,” she told CNN. “We enjoyed all the Bahamian people we encountered, heard lots of stories about their families and how the hurricane impacted them. We wanted to take a boat to the affected islands or meet some of the people. But we were advised it wasn’t a good idea, as it was still under search-and-rescue and they are still settling in at their temporary accommodations.”
Visit the islands unaffected by Dorian and aid in the efforts to rebuild! Your tourism can bring in much needed funds during this dark time.
Main image credit: Rikki Kahley