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Area comes through in time of need

Posted Monday, June 6, 2011, at 12:46 PM

For the last few weeks our immediate area has been spared the brunt of the serious tornadoes that have hammered parts of Alabama and Missouri.

There has been some major property damage, but no loss of life locally.

For that, we are very thankful.

But Greene County residents have not just been sitting back and resting on our good fortune.

Many have been busy opening up their hearts and pocketbooks as well as putting in many hours of labor to help those less fortunate in the tornado-ravaged areas.

On April 27, an F-4 force tornado ripped through Tuscoloosa, Ala., causing major devastation.

Within days, the Worthington VFW Post organized a massive relief effort -- raising more than $9,000 to buy much-needed supplies. The effort caught wind and soon the American Legion, church groups and long list of individual volunteers and donors came forth and joined in the effort.

A semi-truck driven and donated by rural Worthington farmer Dennis Green was soon on the road with the 40,000 pounds of supplies bound for an VFW Post in Cottonwood, Ala.

Less than a month later, another giant twister hit Joplin, Mo., killing 141 (by the latest tally) and damaging 6,100 homes.

R&R Trucking, a contractor at nearby NSA Crane, has its home office in Joplin and terminal manager/driver Leroy Barnhill, of Bloomfield, immediately organized a massive local relief effort that has miraculously gathered nine semi loads of supplies -- weighing more than 150,000 pounds -- that included bottled water, work gloves, work boots, rain coats, food, diapers, household cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, clothing, paper products and much more -- including cash donations.

That effort has been bolstered by the unselfish assistance from Eric Harrah and his team at Bloomfield Manufacturing Company; the First Christian Church of Bloomfield; the First Christian Church of Linton; as well as other churches and civic groups in the area.

Two separate work crews from the Bloomfield area traveled to the Joplin area over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, to offer manual labor assistance along with equipment to help with the clean-up process.

The work crews also had a chance to talk and pray with the victims and their families.

Barnhill commented during his daily reports to the Greene County Daily World that it was "just amazing" how God was working through so many people in our community to help those in need many miles away.

Barnhill stressed for local people not to worry about the collected supplies going to the Joplin area and just sitting in a warehouse. He was in daily contact with people at the churches on the ground and the collections were focused on what was actually needed. In most cases, the supplies were collected here locally in a single day and then shipped by truck to Joplin for immediate distribution.

Some might wonder if their efforts or donations are in vain in things like these tornado disaster efforts.

I recently received a letter of thanks from Walter Turner Commander, VFW Post 6022 in Cottondale, Ala., that I want to share in part.

It shows that the people on the receiving end of our help do appreciate it.

Water wrote:

"Out of all of this despair and hopelessness came a horde of volunteers to help clear the rubble and search for those that were still missing and unaccounted for in this disaster. Emergency first responders and normal everyday citizens dared the dangerous conditions and searched for those that were injured or killed. Desperate calls went out from those that were in need of basic items; water, toiletries, food clothing, and so much more. Answering this call for help were hundreds of people that donated ice, water, food clothing, toiletries ... all necessities that we take for granted every day until we are deprived of them.

"You could see the look of despair on their faces as they arrived and looked as if they had no idea where to begin and then the smiles returned when they saw that they were not alone and many people were there to offer assistance and guidance. Volunteers assisted them in selecting items they needed in an expedient manner.

"The outpouring of care and hope from VFW Posts in other areas of Alabama and out of state was simply heart warming.

"VFW Post 7117 from Worthington, IN called and said they were gathering items to load in a semi-trailer and would deliver to Post 6022 for distribution to those that are in need. A few days later a semi with 40,000 pounds of disaster relief goods arrived from Worthington, IN.

"Throughout the past several weeks, the clean-up and recovery process has been ongoing and we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a long hard road to getting back to a sense of normalcy, but we have had a great beginning and the outpouring of heartfelt sympathy as well and the thousands of volunteers and tons of disaster relief goods pouring in from far and wide just goes to show you that patriotism, Americanism, and the 'neighbor helping neighbor in a time of need' attitude is indeed not dead but alive and thriving.

"Thanks for the opportunity to thank those 'Neighbors' and 'Friends' in Worthington, IN that helped so much."

Great work by all on some very good projects helping out our neighbors, who are very much in need.

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Let's stay with them til things are right. Good work, everyone.

-- Posted by skyrocket on Mon, Jun 6, 2011, at 1:41 PM

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