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Local nonprofit loses everything after Florence, community comes to rescue

Boxes and supplies for about 10,000 care packages for military spouses and children have all been destroyed after flooding, mold from Hurricane Florence. The local nonprofit, Support Military Spouses, was based in this building in Longs. (Taggart Houck/WPDE)

Diane and Steve Rumley have always felt compelled to give back to military spouses and children.

“Their name isn’t on the agreement [to serve] but their lives are,” said Diane.

They decided to start the nonprofit, Support Military Spouses, back in 2009 to help spouses and children. Each year, they and a group of volunteers send care packages around Christmas to Fort Bragg and other bases in the region.

Typically, the shipment is about 2,000 packages. Each box is full of toiletries, stuffed animals, food and a Bible.

“When they get the packages, they cry,” said Diane, also beginning to tear up.

The nonprofit continues to grow each year, consistently adding a steady stream of willing helpers. Hundreds of people who’ve spent their free time making Christmas even more special for the families.

Kathy Baxter is one of those volunteers. Her son serves in the Marine Corps.

“Our mission is to spread the love and show that they’re appreciated,” she said.

It’s a mission that’s become much harder after the building took on more than a foot of water after flooding from Hurricane Florence.

Nobody expected it. Not the landlord. Not the organization.

Every supply in the building was destroyed. The stuffed animals, the toiletries and the Bibles; all gone. Even some personal photos belonging to Steve and Diane were lost.

There were enough supplies to make ten thousand boxes, according to Diane.

“There’s a lot of work that went in to making this home. But God just spoke to mine and Steve’s heart and he said, it’s just a building,” she said, Friday.

Soon, they’ll work from the Myrtle Beach Mall, rent-free. Donations have already poured in from the American Bible Society and Hallmark, to name a few.

“Behind those names are people with big hearts,” she said.

Simply put, the mission is back.

“Floods can’t stop us, mold won’t stop us,” said Diane. “We’ll get the new items. The mission goes on, because they deserve it and they’re worth it, and we love them and so does God.”

There is still a need for lots of help. Already about 1,000 people have registered to receive the boxes, and Diane and Steve haven’t yet advertised shipments.

If you’d like to donate supplies or register to volunteer, click here.

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