Local care center assists residents in need after Idalia

Sep. 7—VALDOSTA — In the wake of Hurricane Idalia, several organizations have traveled to South Georgia to serve the community. But one local care center has not stopped providing food items to families in need across South Georgia through the storm recovery.

South Street Community Care House, founded by Sandra Tooley, was established in 2010 when she began handing out meals to children suffering from food insecurities.

"If you get up and come here for food, you're going to leave with something," Tooley, the councilwoman for District 2, said in an interview Thursday morning.

The hurricane caused Lowndes County an estimated $12,851,400 in damage, according to Gov. Brian Kemp's letter to President Joe Biden's asking for a major disaster declaration Wednesday.

Winds of nearly 70 miles per hour hit the area and wiped thousands of residents' services from power, to wifi and cell phone signals. Hundreds of trees were pushed to the limit leaving multiple roads blocked and homes destroyed.

When the storm made landfall in Valdosta and Lowndes County, the South Street Community Care House's dedicated volunteers took Thursday, Aug. 31, to clean up the center's location at 311 South St., on the corner of South Street and Lee Street. On Friday, the center began actively handing out supplies and food boxes provided by the American Red Cross.

On average, Tooley and her volunteers give away approximately 800 to 1,000 food boxes per day. The recipients often line up at the rear of the house located on the corner of South Street and Lee Street as either walk-ups or drive-thru.

While most frequent customers reside within the City of Valdosta area, others commute from Echols County, Lakeland, Quitman and Madison, Fla., to receive the food boxes. When asked how they learned about the center, the customers often say by word of mouth.

The non-profit receives donations daily and often distributes them out the same day leaving not much left for storage.

"It's in my heart to do this. We don't know people's situations at home. Whatever we need here, God has provided," Tooley said.

For donations or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please contact Sandra Tooley at 229-834-0979.