After a South Florida woman's wedding plans were derailed when Hurricane Irma destroyed the venue she booked for her big day, the bride-to-be decided to donate the food prepared for her reception to residents impacted by the storm.
Jessica Jean Williamson had planned on marrying her fiancé Alex Artega on Sept. 9, just one day before Irma made landfall in the Keys. The couple was forced to cancel their wedding, but they decided to cook up the ingredients for the taco bar they'd planned for their wedding guests and headed down the Overseas Highway.
"The food we brought we had made ahead of time, we were going to have a taco bar, so my mom had 100 pounds of frozen chicken and pork," said Williamson, who spent the past weekend feeding and helping hurricane victims in Big Pine Key.
In a Facebook post published nearly two weeks after the storm damaged her wedding venue, Williamson wrote that she wanted to give hurricane victims in Big Pine Key a "real" meal and decided to donate the food to those in need.
"It felt good bringing people who have been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for over a week some real food. To see the look on their faces as they lined up for literally anything and got authentic street tacos ... this was so worth it I'd do it all over again," she wrote.
Williamson and her family spent three days in the tent city setup on the key and tried to help support those recovering. She's hopeful others will do the same.
U.S. & World
"I don't have a lot of money but I have time, so I went. I have friends who don't have time but they had stuff so they donated it. I can't stress enough how everything together really adds up," she said.
Now Williamson plans to go back and do it all over again, with more manpower. This time she's bringing her fiancé, who said he's ready to get his hands dirty.
"I am prepared to go down, I'm prepping to bring my tools, outdoor equipment, wheelbarrows, whatever I can to help," Artega said.
The couple's wedding plans are on the back burner, but both are still committed to getting married in the Keys.
"It was our original plan, the fairytale wedding we all wanted and I think the Keys deserve it and for me I want it," said Artega.
Williamson had called on her Facebook friends to donate goods to victims and made a plea for volunteers, noting that during her visit to the Keys she saw a lot of supplies but "the lack of help is heartbreaking."
"I'm hoping it brings attention to the need for volunteers," Williamson told NBC 6.