San Antonio man collects donations for West victims

Facebook post leads to outpouring of support from San Antonio to West


When Kent Gerstner saw images of the destruction left behind in the small town of West, Texas he was moved in a big way.

"I saw that video that I guess everyone in the world has seen now, the cell phone video, and something just tugged at my heart and I was compelled that it was my turn to help out," Gerstner said.

After watching news reports of the fertilizer plant explosion Gerstner went to his Facebook page and posted a note. He told his friends he was going to rent a U-Haul trailer and he wanted help filling it up with donations so he could drive it up to West.

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"It was really a simple note that I wanted to rent a trailer and pretty quick it turned into a 'we', and we got a small group going," Gerstner said.

Within a few hours of posting the note, he was overwhelmed with offers to help out. He even had a complete stranger give him $300 in cash when he learned about Gerstner's donation drive.

Gerstner has friends who live in and around West. Fortunately all of them survived the blast. He said giving up a small amount of his time was worth it to give a little help to the residents who've lost some much.

"Certainly we can take a good chunk of our day to drive and help folks," Gerstner said. "If something happened here we'd like to think that other folks across Texas would do the same thing for us as well."

To make sure he wasn't going to be in the way, Gerstner called the Red Cross who put him in contact with relief workers in West. He said he was amazed by the spirit of the people he talked to.

"Every single person I talked to in West has an obvious sense of resiliency and they're going to get through this," Gerstner said.

In a week that has seen so much sadness and loss, Gerstner said he's proud to be one of the people who's trying to shine some light on all the darkness with a little love and kindness. He's humbled by the response of his friends.

"It makes you kind of proud of the people you know," Gerstner said. "Everyone has tough times in their life, then there's things like this that does give you the realization that you can have faith in humanity."

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.

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