It’s the small groups that make a big difference in natural disasters. Keegan Koga (aka Keeli) is the owner of Trap Ink Tattoos in Bradenton, Florida. When Hurricane Irma struck the farmworker community of Immokalee, about an hour and 45 minutes away, Keeli and his friends knew they had to do something to help.
“It could just as easily have hit us.”
He auctioned off a portrait tattoo in an effort to get relief funds, and the outpouring of generosity was so amazing he described it as “super humbling.”
So Keeli, his 9 year old daughter, and employees gathered the supplies- everything from water and other essentials and headed to Immokalee. They set up shop at the Friendship Center, a designated shelter.
Hurricane Irma struck the rich and poor, Hispanic, black, and white alike in Florida. But farmworker communities like Immokalee took a huge hit. When Keeli and his employees/friends arrived in the town, they learned that only 20% still had power, 80% did not. At least 60 houses were destroyed during the storm.
They realized when they got there that there were people of every ethnicity looking for a hot meal. They had no produce, no meat because the supermarkets and restaurants had no power and lost everything fresh. People were desperate for a hot meal, especially chicken.
Marcus Anderson, owner of Split Fire Grill in Bradenton, took his food truck to Immokalee so he could cook hot meals. And cook he did…as Keeli and others worked inside the food trailer. The people outside handing out supplies included both employees of Trap Ink and Split Fire Grill.
“We didn’t know each other from Adam. There was even a guy working with us in the food trailer that was with a Realty Company. While Marcus cooked, we prepared the plates.”
“People were starving for meat. Kids came up and asked for plates for others who couldn’t get there. It was an emotional, rewarding experience.”
He told us about one house that had 18 people living in it because they had no place to go.
“I have my house. I have my business. They didn’t have anything. Politics, race, none of it mattered. When you feed your neighbors, it’s a feeling you can’t buy.” Keegan Koga
They went back a week after the above video was made, and brought more things to the people of Immokalee. When it was all done, Keeli told us he plans to donate the leftover pallets of water to Puerto Rico relief. Well done, Keeli!
Featured photo provided by Keeli: The volunteers from the relief effort at Immokalee.