War Halts Shipment When Needed Most

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War Halts Shipment When Needed Most

ST. MARY'S COUNTY - 12/17/2008

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By Pete Hurrey

Sitting, collecting dust in a storage compartment donated by Security Storage in Hollywood are 74 boxes of donations 

 Jennifer McFann with her counterpart in
 the Republic of Georgie while in the Peace
consisting of 278 blankets, 278 coats, 394 sweaters and 136 pairs of pants weighing 2,392 pounds. They have been there waiting to be shipped to the desperate peoples of the Republic of Georgia since October.

“We have the money. We have the donated goods all boxed and ready to go, but no one will help us to ship the goods where they are intended to go,” says a frustrated Jennifer McFann.  The goods are destined for the most ravaged and war-torn town of Gori and the surrounding area of the Republic of Georgia.

McFann worked for 25 months in Georgia for the Peace Corps where she enjoyed the experience and her host families. She left to return to America just two weeks before Russia invaded the Republic. It turns out that the invasion was centered on the area surrounding Gori, where McFann served for two, plus years.

“I knew I had to do something,” said McFann. “I contacted my friends and asked what I could do to help. They said that winter was coming and that coats and blankets would be the most useful.” McFann emphasized that her ‘Blankets for Georgia’ project is not affiliated with the Peace Corps in anyway. “It is just something I felt strongly about and decided to do on my own.”

 McFann and friends in
 Georgia before the war.

McFann started a drive in St. Mary’s County, where she returned to live with her family after the Peace Corps. She set up six drop off points and began soliciting donations of coats and blankets. Her tireless effort paid off. When complete, McFann had collected the goods listed above and enough money to ship them. However, with the war and the uncertainty of the future of the area, two shipping companies with which she had been negotiating decided to back away from the project.

“We checked with Fed-Ex and UPS and they would have cost around $10, 000,” said McFann. “But Security Storage will eventually need their space back, and I guess I’ll ship what I can with the money I have.” She estimates that at the common carrier rates quoted her by Fed-Ex and UPS, she will only be able to ship about a third of the goods collected.

 McFann in Gori, Georgia before the
 Russian invasion disrupted the
“It is winter over there now. There are so many with homes that were destroyed by the war that many are left freezing. They need these coats and blankets. We have the money. All we need is someone to agree to ship them,” said McFann in a recent phone interview from New York where she now works as a Peace Corps recruiter.

“It's mid-December, the 2000 pounds of donations have been sitting in St. Mary's County for over two months, and I'm no closer to getting these blankets overseas, even though there's an American contact ready and waiting to receive and distribute the items to residents of Georgian villages whose homes were destroyed in the war with Russia,” said McFann in a recent letter to media.

“We’re not looking for charity; we just want these goods to go where they are intended.”

 Local fitness guru, KC McFann helped
 daughter Jennifer with all the donations.

To see a complete history of the effort visit the project Web site: http://jeningeorgia.blogspot.com

McFann is open to suggestions and invites anyone that might have a solution to her dilemma to call her at (646) 483-4537.

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