Lakeland woman turns toilet paper giveaway into Facebook phenomenon

Anchors in the Storm helping during pandemic
Posted at 9:10 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 21:10:19-04

LAKELAND, Fla. -- You have to forgive Tracey Dannemiller when she scrolls through her phone with the same pride of a mother showing off her children.

On that phone in front of her, and at her fingertips, are hundreds of free items up for donation on the Facebook page she started. It was just last month in the middle of the pandemic when she wanted to help out.

“I walked around our block and handed out toilet paper,” says Dannemiller.

But then, her 9-year-old granddaughter had an even bigger idea. It started with a sign in the front yard for anyone who drove by.

“This is where it all started. This is the sign by my 9-year-old granddaughter. She made that. If you have a need, just put your name here and what your need was,” says Dannemiller.

That sign sits right next to a folding table with a red box on it where all needs are written on paper then placed in the box. Tracey quickly learned the need was so great that the red box out in front of their Lakeland home couldn’t contain it. So they set up a Facebook page.

Within a month, they had 1,800 members. Many who needed help and others who wanted to help. No strings attached.

“They go on the Facebook page ‘Anchors in the Storm,'" says Dannemiller. “They post the need and there’s no guarantee that we will meet the need but if another member sees if they can help out in any way or provide that need then they try and do that."

No need is too small or too big. In just a few weeks, the donations now fill up her home.

People came to Tracey needing help when they fell on hard times during the pandemic. Many then turned into volunteers.

“It’s just so humbling to see everyone come together to make our community better,” says Dannemiller.