Florence teen collects sports equipment for Harvey victims

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) –  More than 1,000 miles separate Florence, South Carolina from Houston, Texas, but for one high school baseball player helping victims of Hurricane Harvey is a cause that’s close to his heart.

“Last year when Hurricane Matthew hit, our family wasn’t hurt, but my friends down the street, their houses were destroyed and they lost a bunch of stuff,” said high school student Ryan Florio.

When he heard about the devastation in Houston, Florio immediately wanted to help.

“It seemed like the only thing right to do,” said Florio.

Florio’s mission started on social media. He saw a message from the head baseball coach at the University of Houston, asking for 20 shirts and 10 pairs of shoes.

“I tweeted you know whatever you don’t use anymore please help and donate,” said Florio.

The 17-year-old began collecting jerseys and sports equipment to send to the university. From shirts, hats, and even baseball bats Florio collected hundreds of items.

“People I never heard of, never met, willing enough to give me their stuff,” said Florio. “The stuff that’s coming in is great, tons of it.”

Florio isn’t alone. His teammates, along with the help from six local high schools, have helped Florio surpass his collection goal.

“To be playing with him and knowing that he’s doing something positive in the world and changing a lot of people’s lives makes me feel great,” said Florio’s teammate Quincy Manning.

In just one week, Florio has received nearly 700 pounds of items in donations, surpassing his goal of 500. Florio says helping others is better than hitting a home run, knowing he’s inspired people in his community to make a change.

“By seeing him do something like this, to help people he doesn’t even know and people helping him, it actually changed my life too and it makes me want to be more involved in people’s lives and help out,” said Manning.

Florio has already shipped 257 pounds of donations to Houston and plans to send the rest out next week.