PEWAUKEE -- Hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, water and disaster relief kits were on their way to Texas Thursday, August 31st from Pewaukee, as JJ Watt's Harvey relief fundraiser came to an end. Watt announced on Thursday an online fundraiser he established raised more than $10 million -- something Watt called "absolutely incredible."
As of about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Watt's online fundraiser had raised $12 million. This in just five days.
The fundraiser was set up Sunday by Watt after Hurricane Harvey hit. Following its success, Watt said on social media Thursday: "The most difficult times bring out the best in humanity."
Nine semis filled with food, water and disaster relief kits were en route to Texas Thursday from Pewaukee to help those in need. The items were collected at Pewaukee High School -- one of three donation sites across the state.
Faith Rodenkirk was one of the many volunteers who helped with the JJ Watt Foundation's donation drive in Pewaukee.
"My daughter Lindsey is actually in Houston. I know how hard it is down there, and I just want to do what I can," Rodenkirk said.
"It's been a little bit of stressful times, but again, so many people stepped up. The e-mails started flooding in. The calls started coming in saying 'I've got trucks. I've got people. What can we do for you?'" Connie Watt, JJ's mother and JJ Watt Foundation project manager said.
Part of what made this donation drive so successful is how quickly the community responded to the requests of those involved. They needed can openers Thursday because they ran out for their donation boxes, and 30 minutes later, they had more than enough!
"We did not anticipate the outpouring and it has been...at times you just stand there and look in awe," Chellee Siewert with Capture Marketing said.
"It's wonderful to see a Wisconsin tie to really be supporting people so far away," Rodenkirk said.
The trucks are expected to arrive in Texas Sunday, September 3rd. Watt has organized a crew to unload it, and distribute items to those in need.
Over 50,000 people have donated so far.
JJ Watt, a Pewaukee native and former Wisconsin Badgers star, who now plays for the Houston Texans, created the fundraiser Sunday, August 27th to help the victims of Harvey, calling the devastation he's seen in the Houston area "very tough," and asking "if you can donate, please donate."
Watt posted a video to his Facebook page, along with a link to a YouCaring fundraiser he launched in an effort to help.