Manatee Co. students collect donations for hurricane victims

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At Lee Middle School in Manatee County, Richard Daenell's intro to business classroom has become a storage area of donations being sent to victims of Hurricane  Michael. 

"We spread the word more and more and supplies kept coming in," said Gianna Grieco. 

Mixed in with computers and students, donations are piling up for those who need them the most. 

"We were collecting early for the blessing baskets that we do down here but instead when the hurricane hit we decided to change it and switch up," said Grieco. 

Last weekend, Grieco and six other students with the Future Business Leaders of America packed the supplies and traveled with their teacher to Panama City. 

Their destination: Greater Friendship Baptist church. 

The trip left them speechless. 

"I would have to say heartbreaking. It’s bad up there. What you see on TV doesn't do it justice," said Daenell. 

As they arrived, residents lit up. More than 7,000 pounds of food, water, baby supplies and clothing were unloaded. 

"They haven't had any help yet. Other than us and a couple of other local churches we were the only ones to come in with a large supply for them," said Daenell. 

Items were donated from businesses and families; the bulk coming from students younger than 13. 

"It was surprising that there was still a lot of damage," said Jeffery Vanberkel. 

Their trip comes with a life lesson that can only be learned outside of class. 

"It was a tough experience but it was a good experience," said Grieco. 

It's an experience they plan to continue on. 

"I want to continue to help them because some people down there get a lot of help, but on the other hand, some people don’t get any help or not as much help. I’m going to keep doing what we are doing and helping them out," said Grieco. 

If you would like to help with a donation, contact Richard Daenell at