St. Louis Restaurateurs Work with Local Pol to Assist Hurricane Harvey Survivors


Tom Halaska and Stephen Zettl wrangle donations. - KELLI MCCULLEN
  • Tom Halaska and Stephen Zettl wrangle donations.

After one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, St. Louis citizens are banding together to bring supplies to hurricane victims in Texas.

Tom Halaska, general manager at Demun Oyster Bar; Max Crask, co-owner of Ices Plain & Fancy; Bob Brazell, co-owner of Byrd & Barrel; and state Representative Bruce Franks (D-St. Louis) are collecting supplies to deliver to Texas for both babies and fur babies alike.

"We're not looking for a bunch of different supplies," Halaska says. "We're trying to keep it down to ten or fifteen items."

This isn't the first time Halaska and Franks have paired up to deliver supplies in the wake of a natural disaster. In 2015, the two collected supplies and Franks drove a U-Haul to South Carolina with youth he was mentoring.

Yesterday afternoon Halaska began collecting supplies through a Facebook group called "Babies & Fur-Babies Hurricane Supply Drive (St. Louis)." Halaska also created an Amazon wishlist for supplies so people who wish to help can send supplies directly to Demun Oyster Bar.

Halaska, Crask, Brazell and Franks plan to leave in September with the supplies they collect. Halaska is communicating with a church in Dallas about distributing the baby supplies and Pets in the City about how to deliver the pet supplies.

"We're trying not to go directly to Houston," Halaska says. "We don't want to get ourselves caught in a situation where we have to be rescued. We're trying to help, not make things worse."

State Rep. Bruce Franks and chef Bob Brazell are among those collecting supplies for flood victims in Texas. - STEVE TRUESDELL/CAROLINE YOO
  • State Rep. Bruce Franks and chef Bob Brazell are among those collecting supplies for flood victims in Texas.

Halaska said it was the pictures he saw on his Facebook news feed of the people in Texas experiencing the aftereffects of Harvey that made him want to help.

For Franks, too, social media plays an important role after a natural disaster.

"I think what happens is folks want to do stuff, but they don't know where to go," Franks says. "We use our social media for everything else in the world. How 'bout we use our social media to get informed? Somebody on your timeline is going to be able to point you in the right direction."

The group is collecting supplies at thirteen different drop-off locations in St. Louis, which are listed on their Facebook page.

"We talk about how it takes a village, but this is what a village looks like," Franks says. "We don't have enough people doing stuff because our conscience tells us it's right. So this is what it is — getting out there, using our resources to help those out who need help."

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