By Kathy McGrath

When Hurricane Dorian struck northwestern Bahamas on September 1, it left an unprecedented trail of devastation. The category 5 storm became the strongest in modern record to hit the area and those left coping with the aftermath needed immediate assistance.

When the Abate sisters, who own Simply Frosted Cupcakery in Centennial, heard that a 53-foot shipping container was on its way from the battered island to collect supplies for the relief effort, they didn’t blink.

“The Bahamian people were desperate for everything from water and food to clothes, blankets, diapers and sanitary napkins,” explains Vanessa Abate. She and her sister Enza decided to use their store as a drop-off depot for supplies.

Hoping to gather as many items as they could before the container was shipped back to Freeport the following week, they put a notice in their shop window and on social media requesting supplies.

“We were shocked and overwhelmed by the amount of donations people dropped off,” says Vanessa. “Everyone was so generous!”

The women initially kept supplies at the front entrance of the shop so people could see what was going on, but eventually their party room was also crammed with donations.

The sisters learned about the shipping container from a cousin who owns a condo in Freeport, Bahamas. She told them a Canadian couple who owns a property on the island rented the container and arranged for seven drop-off locations in the Greater Toronto Area.

On September 18, a large truck picked up the supplies from the bakeshop and took them to a central warehouse for sorting before the container was put on a ship and sent down the St. Lawrence River. The sorting not only allowed for maximum storage room but also ensured all items were accounted for at customs.

The Bahamas drive was not the sisters’ first charity initiative. After the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan last year, the sisters made cookies with the hockey team’s logo and donated the proceeds to the GoFundMe page set up for families affected by the crash.