Montgomery, Bucks County Organizers’ Donation Campaign for Kentucky Tornado Victims

One community hit by the storm is helping another.

Four months ago, the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through the region with powerful force, producing historic flood levels and an EF-2 tornado. Montgomery County suffered extensive damage and many were displaced. The recovery process continued.

Earlier this month, tornadoes swept through parts of the Midwest and South. The New York Times reported that 77 people were killed in Kentucky, with a total of 90 dead in five states as a result of the December 10 storm.

More than 800 miles away, Huntingdon Valley resident Lisa Weiss and Linda Stover, of Warminster, Bucks County, are appealing for donations to help tornado victims in Benton, Ky.

“You just have to watch the news and see the extent of it… if you think that even five states, 10% of our country is affected,” Weiss said. “Although these are only parts of these states, we just want to help. “

“We had a recent storm… in Fort Washington where it was really neat to see people gathering,” said Weiss, referring to the EF-2 tornado which passed through an eight mile portion of the townships of Horsham and Upper Dublin.

The tornado ripped off the roofs of buildings as well as downed trees and power lines. Following the destruction, community members created the “UD Helping Hands” Facebook group where participants could solicit help and offer donations. This is also where the “Chainsaw Gang” was born. Led by Upper Dublin High School math teacher Barbara Mass, locals are said to help cut down felled trees in people’s backyards.

“I think this world needs a lot of unity right now,” Weiss said.

As a former emergency medic, her family is made up of first responders who are no strangers to helping those in need. In the days following the storm, Weiss said she watched the storm’s devastation on the news and wanted to do more to help the people of Kentucky.

“I kept searching for two days that first weekend like someone else was doing something?” she said. “So I finally started asking questions, and thank goodness I had a lot of people around me who were well connected and generous, and so it’s really, really a team effort, and the gift of truck is just huge. “

Realizing that transportation would require funding, Weiss said she was ultimately able to secure transportation through Stover, whose husband had driven trucks for 25 years. He drives for TForce Freight and is a member of Harrisburg Area Teamsters Local 776. Stover said she pitched the idea to her husband and was able to get in touch with Union President Ed Thompson.

“It turns out they’re always looking for those kinds of opportunities,” Stover said, adding that in addition to the truck, the union would provide a driver and cover the cost of gasoline and tolls.

A Teamsters Local 776 truck will travel to Benton, Ky., Next week as a volunteer drops off donations for tornado victims. Photo courtesy of Linda Stover

The co-hosts met about a week ago through a mutual friend, according to Weiss. Further planning began around the same time, Stover said, as they prepared fliers calling for donations and posted them on social media.

Their ultimate goal is to “fill the truck” with essentials such as tools, Weiss said.

A pile of donations is gathered for the victims of the tornado in Benton, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of Lisa Weiss

“I imagine their stores are empty and they’re really stressed out,” she said.

Weiss hosted a first drop-off event on Saturday at her Huntingdon Valley home, where she said she received about five donations and “a family brought in $ 1,000 of tools.”

Weiss noted that several sponsors for the initiative included the Bryn Athyn Fire Company, Charity in Action, the Corporation of the Lord’s New Church and Local 776 of the Teamsters.

“I think the most important message is that I know other parts of Kentucky were rallying around them, and sending clothes and help, but to feel support even further afield is even more special,” Weiss said.

Weiss said she had been in contact with the Kentucky Emergency Management Center to get a better idea of ​​the needs. She added the following list of items eligible for donation: Power tools: screwdrivers, drills, nailers, etc. ; Hand tools: saws, hammers, screwdrivers, crowbars, etc. ; Generators; Workshop vacuum cleaners; Large plastic containers with lids; flashlights; Batteries; lighters; Bars of soap, laundry detergent and dish soap; Extension cords and work lights; Household cleaning tools like brooms, mops, etc. ; Work gloves; Boxes of garbage bags; Wheelbarrows.

Those interested in depositing items can do so from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, as well as 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 26 and 27 at the Bryn Athyn Fire Company, located at 2815 Buck Road, in Bryn Athyn. Donations will be accepted until December 27.

Anyone with questions or needing to arrange a pickup for a donation should contact Weiss at 267-275-4700.

“I think the great thing we do is try to get the things that (when) you go to the store, and everyone’s out of stock of all their tools, all of their power drills and everything. “said Stover. “So we’re trying to get things out there, real physical things in their hands. “

Bryn Athyn resident Donald Rose smiles for a photo as he drops off a donation of items for victims of the Kentucky tornado. Photo courtesy of Lisa Weiss

Additionally, Charity in Action accepts monetary donations, according to the flyer. Checks and Paypal donations should state “Kentucky Tornado” and can be sent to Charity in Action, 600 Tomlinson Rd, Box # 277, Bryn Athyn, PA 19009. People sending a check should contact Weiss in advance. Paypal contributions can be sent to [email protected]

Anyone with questions about payments should call Charity in Action President and Founder Clayton Walsh at 267-255-2529.

A Facebook fundraiser launched on December 17 brought in $ 4,210 in four days. Forty-three people contributed to the online crowdfunding campaign, which has a goal of $ 20,000.

Weiss said the organizers are deciding “if they’re actually going to use this money in our stores here in Pennsylvania.” She added that the remaining cash donations could be “filtered for their gas cards and other things they need.” Everything will happen to them one way or another, but for now, our focus is on filling the truck and supplying them.

Once the volunteers have packed the truck, Stover’s husband Rich will leave Pennsylvania on December 28, driving nearly 2 hours and approximately 900 miles, to Benton, Ky.

When asked why he decided to participate, he simply replied that “it’s just the right thing to do”.

“What do I hope to get out of it?” Well hopefully some relief for those in need, ”he said. “I mean the generosity of so many people – I hope (we) can help those in need right now.”

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