VENICE, Fla. - For more than four decades, Venice-based Agape Flights has brought aid and supplies to missionaries in remote areas of Haiti. But after Hurricane Ian hit, they turned their focus to Florida, using their aircraft to fly supplies where they're needed most.
Three years ago, Agape Flights connected with Virginia-based God’s Pit Crew while doing disaster relief work in Haiti.
"Whenever a disaster happens anywhere in the country we start looking for, how can we help?" said Chris Chiles, the immediate disaster response coordinator for God's Pit Team. "I knew who to call."
They gathered supplies, filled up trucks, and prepared to head south. They asked Agape if they'd be willing to help fly relief items down.
"There was no way to get them some of the supplies they needed," said Allen Speer, CEO of Agape Flights. "It was kind of a no-brainer. Let's go get them in Danville."
Thursday, Agape's Embraer 110 left Venice Municipal Airport for Danville, Virginia. By late afternoon, they landed with 3,600 pounds of relief supplies, roofing, tarps, nails, and Blessing Buckets filled with Bibles, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning wipes, toothbrushes, other hygiene items and essentials.
Within minutes, they were loaded into vehicles and driven to the hardest hit areas of Florida. God’s Pit Crew set up a relief hub at a Port Charlotte church offering hot meals, showers, and laundry.
"We've got crews out tarping roofs," Chiles said, "we've got teams that are going in gutting homes that were flooded."
Agape Flights experienced its own tragedy this year. Their second plane was destroyed by rioters in Haiti while on a relief mission. Thanks to community donations, they were able to replace it. Southwest Florida answered their call for help. Now, they return the favor.
"We can pay for fuel and that kind of thing," Speer said. "We're not worried about that. But we really want to come alongside these people, because they're here in our own backyard, helping our neighbors, helping us, helping Southwest Florida."
One group has planes while the other has the supplies. It's a true team effort to help Florida rebuild.
"It's one touch at a time, that's what we're focused on," said Chiles. "One family, one person."
Though Agape Flights' missions are focused on the Caribbean, they stand ready to help their partners fly supplies to Florida as often as they can.