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Columbia organizations continue to help with Joplin relief

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 | 8:03 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Joplin continues to receive support from organizations in Columbia, with local agencies, churches and businesses collecting an impressive amount of food, supplies and cash donations.

The Heart of Missouri United Way in Columbia raised $100,000 within a day after Sunday's tornado leveled much of  Joplin.

MU's Delta Chi fraternity has already counted 4,500 food and clothing items, and the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri has accumulated 60,000 to 70,000 pounds of groceries — enough to fill a tractor-trailer.

 There have been so many donations from across the state that Joplin has run out of  room to store tangible  goods.

The Red Cross is asking people to send items to Springfield or wait to deliver donations, said Joann Moore, public information officer and financial development assistant for the American Red Cross Great Ozark Regional Chapter.

Moore said a number of places in Springfield are ready to accept donations, including the Habitat for Humanity of Springfield and Ozark Food Harvest.

Habitat for Humanity will be collecting food, blankets, toiletry items and medical supplies. Ozark Food Harvest is asking for food, diapers, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items.

“There is going to be a need for donations within the next few weeks,” Moore said. “People might consider waiting a few weeks until the current donations are distributed.”

Local contributions began almost immediately after the tornado landed.

The Heart of Missouri United Way set up a relief fund Sunday night and quickly raised more than $100,000, said Executive Director Tim Rich.

“Literally raising $100,000 in 24 hours is something we have never done before,” he said.

Rich said $10 donations can be made by texting JOPLIN to 864833. All of the proceeds will go directly to the United for Joplin campaign to assist in recovery efforts, he said.

The Food Bank has set aside a portion of its 65,000-square-foot warehouse to house food for Joplin-disaster relief, said Bobbie Kincade, director of development.

“We have a truck with a driver ready at any time to go down to Joplin,” Kincade said.

Initially, the organization was looking for grab-and-go items that didn't require cooking, such as granola bars and peanut butter crackers, she said.

Now the food bank is accepting longer-term foods, such as boxed meals that need preparation.

“We’re trying to look out for the long-term,” she said. “We will have all the food divided, and as they need the food, we will provide it. This is not just a week-long process, it is a process that is going to take months and months.”

At least 2,000 Joplin residents have been assisted through the services of the Salvation Army as well, said Major K. Kendall Mathews, the Salvation Army regional coordinator for Mid-Missouri.

“We are really grateful for the support from the community thus far,” Mathews said.

MU’s Delta Chi fraternity has  accepted food and clothing donations since Monday to send to a Joplin church.

“We have over 4,500 items at this point,” fraternity member Casey Berner said.

MU has teamed up with the Heart of Missouri United Way to create and sell “One State. One Spirit. One Mizzou” T-shirts, which will be available Thursday at the Tiger Team Store and the University Bookstore for $14.95. T-shirts are also available online at mutigers.com

“We will continue making the T-shirts as long as there is a market for them and as long as Joplin is in need,” said David Reiter, spokesman for the MU News Bureau.

Missouri United Methodist Church has been putting together flood buckets to be sent to Joplin for clean-up and recovery.

Seventy flood buckets had been purchased as of Tuesday morning, and the church will continue to collect money for flood buckets, Associate Pastor Keith Vessell said.

“We will be there to help wherever the need is the greatest,” Vessell said.

All of the proceeds will go directly to the Joplin relief, he said.


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