Chester athletes collecting clothes for storm victims

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By Travis Jenkins

Chester High Baseball Coach Chris Powell isn't asking anybody to give the shirt off their back.
"Basically, anything somebody isn't wearing, we're asking them to donate it," he said.
Powell's team and the Cyclones wrestling team are heading up an athletics department wide clothes and bottled water drive to aid those impacted by the storms and flooding that have hit parts of the state. The idea started when a baseball parent sent Powell a message Sunday night. They were looking to get rid of some clothes and thought sending it to someone who had lost everything or been displaced from their home because of the record rainfall was a good way to give back.
"The state we love has been devastated. So many people have lost so much. We've had so many tragedies in this state this year. Hopefully this is something that will bring people together," Powell said.
When Powell got to school Monday morning, he talked to wrestling coach Joe Conlan about the idea of collecting clothes. They emailed the entire faculty at Chester High School but also talked to their athletes.
"The baseball players are pretty upbeat about it. It's been met with a good response so far," Powell said.
They don't just want this to be something that students and faculty are involved with, though, they are asking anyone in the community who has clothes they aren't wearing to donate them to the cause. They hope to take a big load of clothes down to Columbia this weekend. They will make additional trips if items keep coming in.
Chester received a lot of rainfall in the past two weeks, but only had a little minor road flooding to contend with. The fact that it could have been much worse here and is significantly worse elsewhere is something Powell is preaching to his players.
"Columbia is only 45 minutes away from here," Powell said. "And these are just materialistic things we're talking about. Maybe things people aren't even wearing anymore. I just hope the kids realize what it means to give back to people, especially to give back to people they don't even know."
Powell said he actually liked the idea that someone from a rival school might end up wearing a Chester Cyclones shirt. That would reinforce the point, he said, that doing the right thing and giving help to folks who need it is more important than sports and transcends any on-field rivalries.
Currently, hundreds of miles of roads and hundreds of bridges are closed around the state and many midlands and lowcountry school districts have had to cancel classes because of continued flooding. There have been multiple fatalities from the storm too.
"Some people have lost their lives or their family. We can't replace that, but we can help people who made it out and right now have nothing but the clothes on their backs."
Donations of any sorts of clothing or bottled water can be brought to Chester High School or dropped off at Sherry's Pampered Pets Parlor and Lodge at 508 Lancaster Highway.