Many people in the area were horrified to see images and hear stories of the devastation caused by the hurricanes that hit the Southern U.S. and the Caribbean in August and September. For some, like Hamilton 8-year-old William Tapping, the horror hit closer to home.
William’s father, Kenneth Brink, worked in hospitality in St. John when William was between the ages of 2 and 4, and William and his mother, Joanne McNellisbrink, would visit every three months. McNellisbrink says that immediately after the hurricane hit, William, without any prompting, began a drive to collect household items for the people of St. John.
“We have made friendships with the locals,” McNellisbrink says. “They are the most greatful people you would ever meet. We feel we could ease some of their burden just a bit by giving them the little necessities.”
Donations piled up in William’s home, collected from St. Gregory the Great School where he is a second-grader, First Presbyterian Church of Hamilton Square and 33’s Barber Shop. Friend Matthew Wilmont helped him sort through all the items. The Sinclair family of S and S Industrial Shipping volunteered to ship the items to the Caribbean free of charge.
As it happens, Kenneth Brink returned to work for Westin in the Virgin Islands on a two-year contract starting on Aug. 25, shortly before Hurricane Irma caused massive damage to the island.
“My husband loves the people of St. John. I think it was God who made his timing just right,” said William’s mother, Joanne McNellisbrink. “His skill can help the people.”