Watching the devastating news from the Bahamas during Hurricane Dorian, Rikki Kahley and her friends decided to cancel her bachelorette trip there.
But after talking to a woman working for the Baha Mar resort in Nassau, the group opted to go anyway, transforming the celebration into a relief mission.
So, after a social media campaign, the bride-to-be and her crew brought 40 bags of relief supplies to the islands.
“When we called they said: ‘Please don’t cancel, we need your tourism,’ ” Rikki Kahley’s mother, Sandy Gibbs Kahley, told CNN. “The lady I spoke with was crying.
“I called back the next day and told them it was very hard for us to come celebrate when they were hurting. I asked could we donate our hotels rooms for families. And she said that we could not do that because they would feel bad about kicking them out after a few nights.”
So that night, Rikki’s youngest sister, Chloe Kahley, 17, came up with the idea to turn the bachelorette party into a “mission trip,” instead.
“She has a servant’s heart and is always jumping at the opportunity to help other people,” Rikki, who is 24 and is from Macon, Georgia, told CNN. “So, we thought it was a good idea and made all the phone calls to get it coordinated, then just posted on our Facebook pages to ask if anyone felt led to donate supplies – that they could bring it to us and we were taking them.”
The Kahley family started receiving donations of baby wipes, diapers, food, clothes, toys, books and water filtration tools.
They originally thought of taking just 10 extra suitcases but boarded with 37. Delta Airlines waived the fees.
When the bachelorette party arrived on September 12, the Baha Mar resort sent a bus to the airport to collect the suitcases and take them to a church for distribution.
“Our experience was great. We enjoyed all the Bahamian people we encountered, heard lots of stories about their families and how the hurricane impacted them,” said Rikki Kahley, who is getting married October 26. “We wanted to take a boat to the affected islands or meet some of the people. But we were advised it wasn’t a good idea, as it was still under search-and-rescue and they are still settling in at their temporary accommodations.”
Sandy Gibbs Kahley said more clothes and supplies are coming in this week to deliver.
“I am talking to a couple of people who have contacted us about ways to get the rest of the items down there. We will be collecting and making more social media posts of still collecting items through the end of next week,” she said.