Barrie man takes action to help victims of hurricane Dorian
The catastrophic devastation left in the wake of hurricane Dorian has hit close to home for a Barrie man.
Chris Ashton has strong ties to the country that he calls his second home. "My parents have a place in Freeport. They've been down there for 20-plus years. That's where I spent my summers."
Ashton was born in Nassau, and while his family moved to Canada nearly 40 years ago, his parents still divide their time between Canada and the Bahamas.
The Bahamian-Canadian says watching the island he loves being decimated has been difficult.
"I thought it was either 20 tornadoes had gone through, or a bomb. It just looked that way. It was just nothing, nothing standing," he describes.
Anxious to help, Ashton decided to take action. "I felt helpless. I needed to do something." He says he set everything aside and got to work. "People right now, they need a place to live. I think the urgent need is tarps, tents, bedding, pillows, also medical supplies."
This isn't the first time Ashton has stepped up. He organized relief efforts after hurricanes thrashed the same region three years ago.
Ashton plans to meet with his fundraising team in Niagara Falls before crossing the border with supplies and driving down to Florida. From there, he's arranged for containers to be ferried over to Freeport.
"It's a lot of loss," he says of the damage. Still, Ashton describes some of the most resilient people he's ever met. "They rely on their faith and the strength of others, and they do rebuild."
Ashton will be accepting donations at his Barrie office located at 181 Livingstone Street until Sunday. He has also started a GoFundMe Campaign that as of Wednesday reached $22,310 of the $40,000 goal, which will be put toward supplies for the victims.
"I encourage people to still visit the Bahamas in the coming months. See the beauty of it."