Ahead of her October wedding, 24-year-old Rikki Kahley of Macon, Georgia, planned to take a bachelorette trip to Nassau, Bahamas, with friends and family. But after Hurricane Dorian devastated the islands, her itinerary changed dramatically.
Though they originally assumed they would no longer be able to visit the Caribbean country, which was struck by the category 5 hurricane on September 1, the group — which included Rikki’s mother, Sandy, and her 17-year-old sister, Chloe — decided to check in with the resort they had been planning to stay at: Baha Mar in Nassau.
Upon hearing that Nassau had been spared most of the destruction, the group of nine women decided that they would still go on their trip, but their mission would be different. Rikki’s sister, Chloe, suggested that they take supplies to help the Bahamian people, filling their suitcases with food, clothes and toiletries instead of “Bride-to-Be” sashes.
“The main reason I wanted to take supplies down was because I have everything I need plus more,” Chloe told USA Today. “The Bahamians had nothing after the hurricane hit. I felt like God was using me and my resources to help them.”
“She has a servant’s heart and is always jumping at the opportunity to help other people,” Rikki told CNN of her sister.
The bridal party took to social media to solicit donations from friends and family, which they packed up in a grand total of 37 suitcases. According to CNN, the Kahley family worked with Delta to coordinate the excess luggage, and the airline waived the fees. USA Today reported that the group also brought $1,800 in donations in addition to the supplies.
“Today as we are remembering and praying for our country- I wanted to share a lot of the items donated for us to take to the Bahamas Island,” Sandy wrote in a Facebook post before departing for the trip. “We are so blessed to have great friends that have helped us… These are some pictures of items we have received and packed. So thankful for all the money donated that will help us get the bags to them and the left over money we will be making an amazon order to the charity we are working with in the Bahamas for air mattresses- now that all the people have mostly been moved to Nassau. I am truly thankful to call of you my friends and friends of friends.”
The staff at Baha Mar helped ensure the donations landed in the right hands, and CNN reported that the hotel sent a shuttle bus to the airport to pick up their philanthropic guests.
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“Our experience was great,” Rikki told CNN of her atypical trip. “We enjoyed all the Bahamian people we encountered, heard lots of stories about their families and how the hurricane impacted them.”
“Our trip was really fun, and I know our supplies went to the right people, and so it was great,” Rikki said. “We were excited to be able to lend a hand.”