Panama City, FL (October 31, 2018) – The Salvation Army of Panama City and Bill Cramer Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC partnered for a special community celebration on Halloween to give local families a reprieve from the stress they’ve endured in the weeks following Hurricane Michael.

“Hurricane Michael destroyed homes. It destroyed businesses. But one thing it did not destroy is the caring spirit of this community,” said Major Otis Childs, Corps Officer, The Salvation Army of Panama City. “That kind of spirit is what created this event today.”

The free event, which took place at the car dealership, featured a cook-out, trick-or-treating, and giveaways such as backpacks, school supplies, food boxes, tarps and hygiene kits.  Therapy dogs with Therapy Dogs International were on site to provide some hope and comfort to hurricane survivors.

“Let’s come together in the community – neighbor helping neighbor,” said Bill Cramer, Owner of Bill Cramer Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC.

Hundreds of families flocked to the party on Wednesday.  The little ones, decked out in creative and fun costumes, stocked up on Halloween candy, notebooks and crayons at a Salvation Army canteen (mobile feeding unit) parked in the lot. Salvation Army staff and volunteers loaded up their parents’ cars with much-needed supplies.

“You guys are doing great work in the community,” said Danielle Pierce of Panama City. “I appreciate your work and for everybody rebuilding our community.”

Like many local families, Danielle was concerned about taking her daughter trick-or-treating because of the condition of their neighborhood.

“Honestly I don’t even know where I am at anymore,” Danielle explained, regarding the significant hurricane damage that still lingers across the community. “It’s like your bearings and landmarks are gone.”

Her home is still standing, but just about everyone she knows has suffered significant losses as a result of the storm. She was relieved to find a safe place for trick-or-treating, having seen it posted on Facebook. She left work early on Wednesday and brought her four-year old daughter, Savannah, dressed as Wonder Woman.

“I’m excited seeing love being spread so much – people helping people,” Danielle said.

Despite the all of property damage and so many heavy hearts in Panama City, families were able to find some happiness for an afternoon with help from The Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army will continue to be present. We will continue to do what we need to do in order to help people move forward and they will. This community will be rebuilt,” Major Childs said.