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Western Kentucky charity organizations aid in tornado relief efforts

Angels Attic was packed with shoppers on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 10.
Dustin Wilcox
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Angels Attic was packed with shoppers on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 10.

When it became clear that other organizations would not be able to store all the items donated to survivors of December’s tornado outbreak in Mayfield, Murray-based thrift store Angels Attic offered its excess warehouse space to the cause.

This includes Grave County High School, which was overrun with donations this winter. Ultimately, the school could no longer accept used clothing and donated its excess supply to the store to distribute.

“A lot of times, that stuff ends up in a landfill,” said Angels Attic Manager Mike Crook. “Because we sell used clothing all the time, they called us.”

To ensure these donations end up in the right hands, Angels Attic launched a Quad-State Tornado Assistance Program. Until June 30, tornado survivors can put a voucher worth $50 per family toward any items in the store excluding furniture.

Summer was set as the cutoff so families could acquire additional items as their needs evolved throughout the year — from seasonal clothing to toasters and everything in between — but Crook said the program may continue longer if necessary.

“To my register folks, I said, ‘Listen, don’t question,’” Crook said. “If someone says, ‘I was affected,’ give them a voucher, let them fill out, let them get what they want, and don’t worry about the money. If someone is going to be dishonest, it’s going to be few and far between compared to the number of people that we can help.”

Other disaster outreach

Also aiming to assist tornado survivors, the Salvation Army has sent officers to meet with long-term recovery groups primarily stationed at churches in Paducah, Madisonville and Bowling Green to address the needs of tornado survivors, regardless of whether they have already received Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) assistance.

In total, the Salvation Army has given approximately $350,000 worth of aid in $50 Walmart gift cards to tornado survivors to put toward any need, whether that be food, clothes or house supplies. Tornado survivors can receive $1,000 in gift cards for major damage, $500 for minor damage and $400 for lighter damage.

Bo Sells, an emergency disaster service director for the Salvation Army, said many local churches opened their doors to tornado survivors even before his organization entered the region, which is why they serve as the backbone of this outreach effort. Yet the Salvation Army is also working with Catholic charities and the Red Cross to make this happen.

Sells noted the community can donate to the Salvation Army’s ongoing tornado relief efforts via the national website.

“It’s going to be months if not years — if we’re ever really recovered from it,” Sell said. “I don’t think you ever can really be recovered from something that impacts a community the way the last tornadoes did.”

Dustin Wilcox is a television production student at Murray State University. He graduated from Hopkinsville High School in 2019.
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