Debbie Depin deals in first aid kits, emergency water pouches and solar blankets.
Survival supplies are Depin’s livelihood, but that doesn’t stop her from giving them away.
The longtime Huntington Beach resident partnered with Giving Children Hope — a nonprofit Christian organization in Buena Park that assists children locally and internationally — to donate survival kits, food and personal-hygiene items to Haiti and Chile after both countries were struck by powerful earthquakes.
Watching the destruction on the news and seeing how bad the situation was, Depin decided to help.
“To me it was a tragedy. It didn’t matter where it was,” she said.
Depin has donated about 375 pounds of supplies to the disaster relief effort through Giving Children Hope. The organization was in Haiti days after the earthquake and has given more than $7 million in supplies, said Ken Hicks, procurement and disaster relief coordinator for Giving Children Hope.
The organization mainly delivers medical supplies, but accepts donations of supplies, he said.
Depin gave first aid kits from her online survival and first aid business, Sunset Survival and First Aid. Food, toiletries and other items she managed to collect for free.
A self-professed “couponer,” Depin said she will take anything for free and find a home for it.
“If I can get it for free, I will, and I will know, or find, the charity that can put it to the best use,” she said.
Depin has been using her business and her thrifty nature to help out local schools and organizations like the Relay for Life, Orange County Food Bank and community emergency response teams.
Depin started Sunset Survival and First Aid in early 2007 after realizing that few people were prepared for a major disaster. Depin said in California, if it’s not an earthquake, it’s a flood or fire, and she knows first-hand the damage an earthquake can cause.
Living in Glendale at 16, she felt the earth tremor in February 1971 as a 6.6-magnitude quake struck the San Fernando Valley. She had felt earthquakes before, but nothing like that one.
Several chimneys in her neighborhood crumbled, but it wasn’t until she drove into the valley to check on her aunt that she saw the destruction an earthquake could cause. Homes were destroyed, roads had buckled and police roped off the area.
“Everything was just a mess,” she said. “Even her refrigerator had flown open.”
The experience was one reason Depin said she thinks she got into her business.
Being prepared, having a plan and knowing what to do during an emergency can help take away some of that fear, she said.
“It’s always scary anyways. It’s scary to me, but I think it would be a little less so if you know [emergency preparation],” she said.
How To Help
Buy supplies: https://www.sunsetsurvival.com
Donate to the Haiti relief effort: https://www.gchope.org