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June 2012
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Community embraces giving spirit with time, donations

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

The regional community is banding together in response to the tornado that tore through Brookport, Ill., leaving three deaths, many injuries and widespread damage.

Public agencies, hospitals, churches and businesses in Paducah, Metropolis, Ill., and around the region have collected and distributed donations and resources to the Brookport community.

Private volunteers are requested to come to Unity Elementary School on Unity School Road in Brookport from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. Brookport residents can register for aid from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Brookport City Council chambers. Volunteers will be in several of the hardest impacted neighborhoods for registration or residents in need can call 618-564-2351.

Sandy Webster, director of the American Red Cross Little Egypt service center, commended the quick response of the community, specifically long-time Red Cross partner First Baptist Church in Metropolis, Ill., during a Tuesday news conference. She said the next steps for the organization are damage assessment and working with families with the help of crisis counselors.

First Baptist Church in Metropolis has been designated the official Red Cross shelter. Pastor Joe Buchanan said the outpouring of support had left the church without adequate storage for additional supplies as of Tuesday night.

"The response has been overwhelming. We had a line down the street in front of the church with people donating everything you can imagine," he said. "We collected so many blankets, I think everyone in Massac County could have two."

As the ongoing relief efforts progress and travel into Brookport reopens, the ministry will be able to reassess specific needs. About 10 displaced families are staying at the church, which has the resources for 50 families, according to Buchanan.

He said anyone affected by the disaster who needs supplies can visit the church at 307 Massac Creek Road from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily or call the church at 618-524-8681 to set up delivery. Buchanan said the church will remain open indefinitely until Red Cross officials can direct displaced Brookport residents to long-term shelter options.

"We will be here as long as there is need," he said. "If you need help or supplies, please come here (First Baptist Church)."

Victory Full Gospel Church on Old Marion Road in Metropolis is accepting donations, and the most needed items are cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes, laundry material, towels, trash bags and large plastic storage containers, according to church volunteer Laura Anderson.

"We are really just taking anything and everything," she said. "There are needs for days and days."

Mt. Sterling Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Mt. Sterling Road in Massac County is working to distribute food and resources and help with overflow storage for items collected at First Baptist Church. Pastor David Leneave said the church is collecting cleaning and hygiene products and delivery can be coordinated by calling Leneave at 731-414-8232.

Project Hope Humane Society of Metropolis on 10th St. in Metropolis needs pet food and litter to take to the Landing Strip in Brookport, a makeshift shelter for stray pets.

In Paducah and McCracken County, several disaster relief drop points have been established. Residents can drop off donations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the Paducah Fire Department Station One, Mercy Regional EMS Station One, or the Lone Oak Fire Department Station One, according to Jamey Locke, executive director of Mercy Regional EMS.

He said the following items are requested: water, non-perishable food, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, household items, cold weather clothing, pet supplies and tools, including rakes, shovels and brooms. Money is currently not being accepted there. For more information or questions about donations, contact Mercy Regional EMS at 270-450-8050.

The Paducah LifeWay Christian store, 3480 James-Sanders Blvd., is accepting donations of blankets, baby bottles, bathroom supplies, water, and non-perishable food at the front desk, according to store manager Bobby Knight. First Baptist Church of Paducah at 2890 Broadway is accepting donations in the church office ,including cleaning supplies, work gloves, trash bags and water. Royal Oaks Chevrolet Cadillac of Paducah, 3417 Park Ave., is accepted donations of water, diapers, blankets, clothes and undergarments, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Cash donations can be brought to Banterra Banks in Metropolis with a notation they are for the Brookport tornado relief. The Paducah chapter of the Red Cross is taking donations at www.redcross.org/ky/paducah or mailed to 232 N. Eight St., Paducah, KY 42001. Donations can also be mailed to the Little Egypt chapter of the Red Cross Chapter at 662 N. Airport Road, Suite 112, Murphysboro, IL 62966. Donations should be marked Brookport, Ill., or Kentucky tornadoes.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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