Volunteers Collect Items To Help Women In Bahamas

Volunteers Collect Items To Help Women In Bahamas

SELBYVILLE – Employees at Keller Williams Realty spent the early morning hours last Thursday sorting and packing accessories for women in the Bahamas.

Team Leader Kelley Bjorkland said the inventory will go to an organization that will teach the ladies business skills needed to support their families.

“This is for them to sell and build their businesses,” she said. “It will transform the abilities of these women.”

Bjorkland’s inspiration came from a previous trip to the island nation, where she participated in an auction to benefit the Grand Bahama Children’s Home, an organization that cares for neglected kids ages 12 and younger.

“I was there on vacation, and the last day of my trip I wanted to see if there were any events for charity that I could get involved in to give back,” Bjorkland said. “I googled and voila.”

The auction, labeled The Dollar That Could Project, sold art, jewelry and trips in an effort to raise $60,000 for charities such as the children’s home, which relies on donations for food, clothing, medical care and more.

“Many of these women and families were giving these children up because they were starving,” she said. “I wanted to give back.”

With the financial support, she said, women will now be able to provide for their children and the organization will use the inventory to teach them business practices.

The inventory, including thousands of necklaces, bracelets, and even leopard-print pants, came from businesses that went under.

With the help of the Bahamas Striping Group, a local company that hosted the auction, Bjorkland and her team has worked out the logistics of packaging and shipping.

“Bahamas Striping helped put all of the pieces together,” she said.

The Berlin Walmart has also worked with the teams to provide half of the clear containers needed to ship the accessories through customs.

In one day, the realty teams from Ocean City, Salisbury, Lewes, Bethany Beach and West Fenwick Island filled 150 containers. Much of the remaining items filled several other boxes.

The storage facility, which will hold the items until it is shipped, was completely full by noon.

Bjorkland said the Bahamas Rotary Club will transport the accessories from the Eastern Shore to Miami, where it will then be shipped to Nassau.

The capital, a major cruise and travel destination, is where many of the women will set up shops and tents, Bjorkland said. From there, the items will go around the Bahamas.

“I cried at the auction, and I cried when this was all over,” she said. “I want to thank the team from the bottom of my heart.”

Bjorkland said it took a couple of weeks to organize the teams for this packing event, but several were in attendance that morning.

“I am honored and humbled to be in business with individuals that come together as a team and work in order to impact the lives of others,” Keller Williams owner Paul Richardson said in a statement.

Veronica Bishop, who joined Keller Williams in July, said she enjoys the giving culture of the company.

“I am so proud to be a part of this amazing team who gave freely of their time away from their families and businesses to help make a difference in the lives of women, children and families in the Bahamas,” Veronica Bishop said.

Upon the shipment’s arrival, Bjorkland said officials, including the prime minister, will hold a celebration.

“I can’t wait for it to get there and start making a difference,” Bjorkland said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.