By Erika Elaine Wells
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Residents of the Eastern Panhandle are coming together to help fellow West Virginians in a time of need.
Donations were made Sunday at the former Union Sales Dodge building on the corner of Queen and Race streets in downtown Martinsburg to assist the more than 300,000 people in the Charleston area who have been affected by the water supply that was contaminated by a chemical spill that occurred Thursday.
“We really need to reach out to them,” said Randy Lewis, site coordinator and executive director of Main Street Martinsburg, a nonprofit organization that promotes and enhances the historic downtown area. “The amount of donations so far is starting to show that we are getting support through the community, which we really appreciate.”
State Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, has coordinated the Eastern Panhandle Relief Response to set up collection sites for citizens to drop off items to be sent to the Charleston area. Items that are needed include distilled water for medical devices, liquid baby formula, microwavable meals, paper plates, plastic utensils, sanitizer and wipes.
Residents are unable to use tap water until further notice due to water restrictions, leaving them unable to do routine tasks such as shower, cook, clean or wash clothing and linen. Hospitals and businesses are reaching out to legislators because they have had to temporarily close, Unger said.
“We need to help our fellow West Virginian,” said Amy Allen, of Martinsburg, who dropped off goods. “They are in dire need right now of supplies, and they need to take care of themselves and their children and get back to normal as soon as possible…”