Former Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters organizes countywide relief drive to collect and ship containers of aid to The Bahamas through the Port of Palm Beach

RIVIERA BEACH -- A group of Riviera Beach community leaders, led by former Mayor Thomas Masters, on Thursday began a drive to collect hurricane relief goods for The Bahamas.

Masters, president of the World Conference of Mayors, said the conference is sponsoring an effort to have churches and individuals bring donations of nonperishable foods and other needed items to a shipping container staffed by volunteers at Imperial Plaza on Blue Heron Drive at Avenue S in Riviera Beach.

Several churches around the county, from Pahokee to Delray Beach, have agreed to participate, according to Rae Whitely of the Coalition of Churches in Palm Beach County. According to Masters, Staples in Lake Park also will gather donations and bring them to the Riviera Location.

The Riviera group received the container from Monarch shipping and hopes to fill several of them, which Monarch will transport to Freeport, Master’s said. A delegation from the group also plans to travel by ship to The Bahamas to help distribute the goods, he said.

Also helping is Derrick McCray of McCray’s Backyard Bar-B-Q. "We don’t want to have a delayed reaction. We want to do it now," McCray said, noting that his mother and some of his employees are of Bahamian descent.

The trailer is staffed from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., said Masters, whose five terms as mayor ended in March.

While mayor, Masters set up a sister cities program between Riviera Beach and Freeport. Freeport Administrator Don Cornish will be on the receiving end to help with distribution, when the trailers are shipped, Masters said.

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