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Non-profit groups donate to Harvey first responders

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DENHAM SPRINGS - In Baton Rouge, Denham Springs and Central, two non-profits, "Back the Blue" and "Behind the Line," spent their weekend collecting hundreds of donations.

Saturday the volunteers collected at BRPD Headquarters on Airline Hwy. and Sam’s Club in Denham Springs. Sunday, the two groups collected donations at Sam’s Club again, as well as at the Neighborhood Walmart in Central. 

Both organizations are helping the officers in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey and other first responders.

The feeling the thousands of people affected by Harvey may be feeling is one the volunteers of "Back the Blue" and "Behind the Line" say they know personally.

“We’re just kind of paying it forward, they came and helped us when we needed it and now we're doing the same for them,” a founder of "Behind the Line," Shannon Garcia said.

The trailer loads of donations are headed to Texas towards the end of the week after being loaded in semi-trucks at BRPD Headquarters.

“It’s going to Roman Forest," Garcia said. "It’s just North of Houston. It is a unified district and it covers six different departments and is a command post for all first responders. That’s who were reaching out to not just the department, but all first responders.” 

During Saturday’s donation collection, at least six trailers were filled to the top with donations. Sunday, the total reached at least 12, according to a spokesperson for the non-profit. 

"Behind the Line" was started as a grassroots effort, by four Baton Rouge women helping and aiding first responders in times of tragedy and loss. 

After nearly a year of planning and preparation, they decided there wasn't a better time than now to put the non-profit to help the first responders in Texas.

“We're trying to concentrate on what we needed when we flooded over here,” Captain Tim Browning of the Baton Rouge Police Department said.

Captain Browning said the department and other first responders are using  lessons they learned during last year’s flood to help the first responders in Texas. 

“When it's you, you're concentrating on helping that community, you're not thinking about the supplies you're actually going to need when you go home,” Browning said. 

The collective effort, one that Tonja Garafola, the wife of East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy, Brad Garafola, who was killed in the police ambush last year, says she wouldn't be anywhere else and is happy to help.

“This is my family, it truly is my family, and anything I can do to get the word out, that they need donations," she said. "They're out there rescuing people and they have to leave their homes behind ... can’t even worry about it because they have to be out there."

If you would like to learn more about the non-profit’s involved, you can visit their Facebook pages online.

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