Local to flip coin at Citrus Bowl New Year's Day

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - After Hurricane Michael hit, people from near and far helped storm victims recover. One local resident who took in some storm victims is being recognized at this year's Citrus Bowl where she'll be flipping the coin for the coin toss.

"It so could have been us, two days prior to the storm hitting this was the path of the hurricane, south Walton County," Molly Caplenor, a Walton County resident, said.

Some may say Caplenor was one of the lucky ones. Her rental properties in Old Florida Village were not damaged by Hurricane Michael. But she later learned that others weren't so lucky.

"It's still unbelievable to know what I saw. I thought that the pictures did it just it but until your in it, until you fell it you didn't know," she said.

Seeing the devastation, Caplenor wanted to help. A few days after the storm hit, a neighbor emailed Caplenor asking if she had a place available for a friend from Lynn Haven whose home was damaged during the storm. Caplenor had a vacant unit because a renter canceled at the last minute.

"I said, 'Let's go get them, let's bring them here and give them a home. Still I can see their faces and it was heartbreaking to know that they had lost everything. To be able to give them a home was amazing opportunity," she said.

Caplenor reached out to other homeowners to house 25 families affected by the hurricane. She even found ways to get storm victims food, water and other supplies.

"It was those basic needs we started with and welcome kits and which then turned into soliciting donations," she said. "Donations from awesome local businesses."

Caplenor's efforts didn't go unnoticed she'll be recognized at the Citrus Bowl Tuesday where she will be conducting the coin toss.

"I've dreamt of crazy things to do in my life, I've done a lot of crazy things but I can assure you flipping the coin to start a college football game on new years day never was in the realm of possibility."

Caplenor was also recognized by one family who stayed in Old Florida Village after the storm. When asked how that letter made her feel, she said, "That's the part I'll always remember. To know that I was in a position to help and I did it just takes that one act."

Caplenor also started a community project to help storm victims and raise money for hurricane recovery efforts.