SW FL companies supply Surfside condo rescue crews
Stacie Nikkel drove to the Surfside condominium collapse site with a car full of coffee and produce Friday.
“It’s so sobering,” she said Sunday. “When you pull in there and you see — it literally takes your breath away. You can’t even describe it.”
Mercy Chefs, a faith-based, nonprofit disaster organization, was cooking 1,500 meals a day for first responders. Nikkel, an account manager with BELFOR Property Restoration in Bonita Springs, asked the group how her business can help.
“The guys really need coffee and fresh fruit,” she said. “(Randy Mitchelson) popped into my head.”
Mitchelson co-owns Grumpy Goat Coffee Co. in Bonita Springs. The coffee roaster quickly packaged 45 pounds of their finest beans for donation. That’s 2,000 cups of coffee for the crews.
“It was a no-brainer,” Mitchelson said. “I just asked, ‘How much do you need, when do you need it, and what more can be done.’”
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Stan’s Coffee and Food Service was contacted and quickly donated an industrial coffee maker and plenty of cups, creamer and other supplies.
Nikkel’s last stop before her drive to Surfside was Seed to Table in North Naples for some donated crates of fresh fruit.
Within hours, she was dropping off supplies for Mercy Chefs within sight of the rubble pile and hundreds of rescue and cleanup crew members.
“Honestly, it feels good to give something, but you get over there, and it feels so small in comparison,” Nikkel said. “The first responders are dealing with the elements, the heat, the water — it’s incredible.
Mercy Chefs makes three meals a day for first responders in “a little tent city,” Nikkel said.
“They’re not making this out of a fancy kitchen or hotel,” she said. “They’re preparing literally out of a tent. It’s really spectacular.”
BELFOR’s CEO Sheldon Yellen is a philanthropist, especially for first responders, and the business regularly donates to local firehouses. This is the first time Nikkel has gathered a group of Southwest Florida businesses together for a single cause — and hopes it’s not the last.
“I hope this creates the opportunity for businesses to come together in times of need,” Nikkel said. “It’s incredible what can be done once you get the ball rolling.”
Mercy Chefs plans to stay on-site for another three weeks. Fresh produce, especially fruit, is still needed, Nikkel said. Any donors who want to contribute can email Nikkel at [email protected].