Boca Grande Charities, Inc. – a charitable foundation founded by Capt. Sandy Melvin (and now includes Ron Walker and Pat Waterhouse) – helped save the day regarding fuel, not only on Gasparilla Island but on Little Gasparilla Island as well.
Melvin worked with Mike Krause of Okeechobee Fishing Headquarters, who by happenstance during a conversation about boats asked what needs the people of our area had after the hurricane. Melvin said fuel was one of the top priorities, and Krause said he knew just who to talk to.
The owner of Kirchman Oil in Belle Glade was a friend of his, Krause said, and he thought they could get a whole lot of fuel at a reasonable price from him. They procured a horse trailer from two brothers named Jeff and Breezy McMillan, found a bunch of 55 gallon drums … and the next thing anyone knew, 500 gallons of fuel was on its way to Gasparilla Island.
And that was just the first shipment.
Using a battery powered pumping system to pump fuel into into five-gallon cans, Melvin was able to distribute gas to many who needed it.
The second shipment came the next day – 260 gallons of diesel fuel and 360 gallons of gas. The fire department and the sheriff’s deptartment were unsure when they could get fuel, so their tanks were topped off first. The remainder was distributed using the “coconut telegraph” telling everyone who needed fuel to convene at the Wheeler Road ballfield.
On day three 110 gallons of diesel and 460 gallons of gasoline was distributed.
By the fifth day more gas stations were open and there was less of a need for distribution. That was the day that Robyn and Dixie Hollins showed up with 250 gallons of fuel for islanders. Cody Bowen & Suzanne Dixon got word through the water taxi service to come to public boat ramp. They took 560 gallons to Little Gasparilla Island, courtesy of Boca Grande Charities, Inc.
Melvin and Boca Grande Charities were able to afford this generousity thanks to money raised by the Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournaments over the course of13 years.
Many thanks to all those who have contributed to Boca Grande Charities to help them do these good deeds for the community during this time of need.