It’s hard to miss Steve Cribbs.
At 6-foot-8, the cowboy boots-wearing homebuilder with close-cropped hair and distinctive South Carolina accent cuts a singular image when he walks in the room.
To determine whether the 43-year-old owner of Greenwood construction company Lifetime Group likes you, count the number of times he hurls a good-natured insult your way.
“I’m going to crop you out of this,” Cribbs said with a laugh after posing for a group photo with the volunteers who with him made up the Convoy of Care — a contingent of local residents who spent the weekend deep in the heart of hurricane country, helping Florence-weary residents obtain a fresh meal at no charge and handing out free supplies.
Cribbs, a 1993 Greenwood High School graduate whose wife, Kristi, helps with the family business, coordinated the humanitarian effort — pulling on his long list of professional connections to make it work.
Traveling with him was James Long, owner of Lakelands Overhead Door and Insulation, cabinet maker Kenny Talley, Jason Taylor and Mark Timms. All Lakelands natives, the men spent 72 hours aiding storm-battered residents in the Carolinas.
The work wrapped up Saturday night at the Queheel Fire station in Maxton, N.C.
“It has been a long week, but satisfying to do what we could to help in a crisis. We plan to continue to take donations and will make a trip late next week back to this area with more supplies and write a check for any surplus dollars that the fundraiser collects,” Cribbs wrote on his Facebook page.
Located in Robeson County, Maxton and the surrounding area is among the poorest places in America and just a short drive from South Carolina’s “Corridor of Shame.”
Cribbs and his crew were insistent that the 3,000 pieces of chicken — and 50 pounds of catfish donated along the way by a homeowner in rural Horry County — was disbursed to those most in need.
Many who streamed through the rural fire department on Friday and Saturday were impacted by Florence — either through its floodwater or driving winds — and were grateful for a hot meal.
Several residents said they were without power for almost a week, meaning refrigerators that even on normal days are barely stacked because of poverty were leaner than usual.
Cribbs, who manned the grill for more than 12 hours a day, put no limit on the amount of food that people could take.
“This is an operation everyone should be involved in one way or another. Compassion is a hard thing to come by, sadly. Lots of people I know have completely ignored or are unaware about the extent of what has happened so close to home and carried on with their lives as usual, with the football games on TV and small goings-on as if nothing has happened,” he said.
With in-kind donations from Sports Break managing partner Kevin Prater — who allowed one of the restaurant’s large cookers to make the trip, and also chipped in utensils and other supplies — Cribbs, Long and company spent more than $5,000 out of pocket.
A Facebook fundraiser set up to support the efforts had raised nearly $4,000 out of its $10,000 goal by Sunday afternoon.
Arriving in Lee’s Landing in rural Horry County on Thursday after nearly 8 hours on the road, Cribbs got to work. The team spent that night in a modest summer home he owns in Myrtle Beach, communicating via walkie-talkie with elements of the “Cajun Navy,” ad hoc volunteer groups who assemble in the aftermath of disasters in the Southeastern United States to help with rescue operations and recovery efforts.
A member of that group put Cribbs in touch with officials in Maxton, who welcomed the caravan and cleared staging area behind the firehouse on Friday.
The convoy’s members spent Friday and Saturday night on air mattresses in the Queheel Station’s large service bay.
“We just wanted to find people to feed, who really needed our help,” Cribbs said.