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Countians pitch in to aid victims of South Florida's Hurricane Andrew


The warehouse at the BWI Commerce Park stood dark and empty except for few boxes of Rice Krispies, a 6-pack of Lipton tea bags and few bars of Lux soap.

Empty boxes were lined up nearby, ready to be filled with food and hauled to South Florida, which was devastated by Hurricane Andrew.

Few people had stopped by to donate goods Saturday morning, but officials with TNT Express Worldwide, an international air express company based in Australia, were optimistic that word would spread.

"We were sitting around on Thursday and saw just awful pictures of people," said Lisa Hogan, the branch manager for the Hanover office. "We were brainstorming about what we could do and it blossomed into this."

They have transformed part of their loading area into a disaster relief center. They even found two trucking companies willing haul the donated goods to Florida.

Saturday, their first day open, was slow mainly because they didn't advertise. Ms. Hogan and Mike Watson, from the Washington office, were busy making signs.

Original plans were to simply solicit goods from clients when pickups were made. Now, however, those clients -- which include many large Baltimore-area companies, are collecting themselves and will bring the goods to the company in bulk.

Otherwise, the company's plans are starting to spread by word-of-mouth. "Some kids have donated lunch boxes," Ms. Hogan said, adding that she is looking for everything from canned food to diapers to bed sheets.

She said Baltimore County firefighters, who are heading a relief effort in their county, and Anne Arundel County firefighters may coordinate with her company to ship the donations south.

The company will accept donations through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is located toward the rear of the BWI Commerce Park at 7522 Connelley Drive.

Other places in the county that are accepting goods include the Salvation Army -- at the office of Long and Foster Realtors -- and the American Red Cross in Baltimore.

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