Courtesy of Kara Franker

Florida resident Kara Franker started the fundraiser to help her affected friends and their communities in the Keys.

By Taylor Eisenhauer

When Hurricane Irma barreled through the Florida Keys, Kara Franker, a writer and video host based in Miami, was heartbroken as she watched the devastation. “It was tearing my heart to pieces as I scrolled through my social media feeds and saw friends posting about the very real destruction and personal loss they and their friends were facing,” she says.

The heartache combined with the stories of strength and resilience Franker saw inspired her to help. “That’s when the idea hit me.”

Courtesy of Kara Franker

Franker had an inventory of handmade Moroccan beach bags and pineapple beach blanket “roundies” she planned to sell as a business venture. She made a major modification to her sales strategy, pledging that 100 percent of the profits will instead go toward on-the-ground Hurricane Irma relief efforts in the Keys. “The Florida Keys mean so much to me,” she says.

Courtesy of Kara Franker

In the first 24 hours of her sale, Franker raised $500 and hopes to raise $5,000 in total. You can purchase the beach totes for $125, the blankets for $50, or both for $150. If you’d like to help the effort but don’t want to purchase either product, Franker encourages making a one-time $10 donation to the Florida Disaster Fund, the state’s official hurricane relief fund, by texting DISASTER to 20222.

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The proceeds from the totes and blankets will go directly to Franker’s friend Jannette De Llanos, who is leading a grassroots effort to find both temporary and permanent housing for Keys residents who have been displaced by Irma. De Llanos grew up in the Florida Keys, and her Islamorada-based office has been coordinating supplies and aid.

For more ways to assist with aiding those affected by the hurricane, head over to our Hurricane Irma: How to Help page.