Kenny Chesney’s home on St. John is “simply gone” after Hurricane Irma whipped through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, wreaking havoc on its way to Florida. But unlike so many in the Virgin Islands, this is only one of his residences, whereas hundreds more island residents have lost everything they own.
When Kenny Chesney went to the Virgin Islands 20 years ago, he had no idea the Saints would become an integral part of his life. But over the last two decades, the songwriter has lived as a local – and made many friends across the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. In the spirit of local community, Chesney began Love for Love City to identify pressing local needs, create opportunities for companies to donate supplies, food, physical goods or transport and people to contribute to the ongoing rebuilding of the islands.
“Getting supplies in is hard. Finding places for workers to stay is even harder now that Hurricane Maria has done so much damage to St. Croix,” Chesney said in a statement. “Because it’s so hard to get even the basic supplies in, let alone the news media, people really aren’t seeing how devastating these hurricanes have been.”
Chesney personally has sent planeloads of food, water, medical supplies, generators, tools, clothes, tarps and camping equipment. He has also taken many people and their pets off the islands to the mainland in an attempt to lessen the strain on supplies across the various islands.
Currently vetting various local and national relief organizations, Love for Love City seeks to insure the money and materials generated get to the people who truly need them.
“With all the crisis across the country, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed, or to respond to the first person who reaches out. In St. John and the other surrounding islands, there is so much more to the needs than just materials,” Chesney said. “We have to get the equipment necessary there… We need to figure out how to shelter workers rebuilding the community… We have to understand, too, that entire communities have been wiped out.”
Food? Water? Medical care? These things are all in an emergency state. That’s where we have to start… and it’s going to take time, careful thought and making some good decisions. But the number of meetings, calls and conferences I’ve been in or on over the last several days? It’s an education, but it’s also part of doing this is in a way that will matter. Right now, making sure the people in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands aren’t forgotten in all the other equally troubling stories is critical.
Chesney cautions people who wish to help to be careful of all charities claiming to be affiliated with or through his name, or any of the entities he is affiliated with. Love for Love City is the sole charity Chesney is working through – and all resources collected will be distributed through Love for Love City after proper evaluation.
Love for Love City is a fund to support and give to local and national 501(c)3 charities aligned with our mission of getting relief where it’s needed, immediately and ongoing in the Virgin Islands. The Love for Love City Foundation is a fund of Renaissance Charitable Foundation Inc., a 501(c)3 publicly supported charity registered with the IRS. Contributions can be made at http://bit.ly/LoveforLoveCity.