Originally published Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 08:49p.m.

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, Yavapai Exceptional Industries’ (YEI!) Executive Director Brad Newman received a special message: a thank-you from Ron Sharpe, the Executive Director of The Arc of the Bay, a Florida organization providing support and training for adults with disabilities.

He expressed his gratitude for a special, post-hurricane care package from YEI!, which contained gift cards, T-shirts, notes and cards, and samples of Spice ‘n’ Slice, the meat-seasoning mixture YEI! guys and gals package and sell.

“A month or so ago when Hurricane Michael just wiped out that part of Florida,” Newman said, “our guys and gals wanted to know what they could do. They’re aware of the news, it’s upsetting to everybody, and seeing the people, the news, the pictures—from 3,000 miles away—it gives you that feeling of hopelessness.”

With the help of Dakota King, YEI! Developmental Activities Coordinator, the YEI! guys and gals turned hopelessness into helpfulness. They put together a care package that Newman said was “our way to say, ‘we’re thinking of you, you’re not alone in this.’”

The 32-pound care package included: gift cards to Home Depot, sandwich shops, and pizza parlors, as well as some generic gift cards, a YEI! DVD, YEI! T-shirts, a handful of Newman’s music albums and hand-written notes and cards.

By phone, Sharpe said that while he and his colleagues and friends at The Arc of the Bay have, “overcome quite a bit,” and are “trying to get back to normal, one day at a time, one step at a time,” receiving “a package of love” has created an amazing ripple effect.

“We’re just so appreciative,” he said. “Every time I turned around there was another goodie hidden here.”

He said he already had used one gift card to make a necessary purchase, and that it was hard to come up with words to express his gratitude.

“We just hope that you guys, all the way across the U.S., can feel the love and appreciation and warmth of your gifts. We’re still struggling, but we are great, God is good, and we’ll continue doing what we’re doing.”